Many of God’s people Israel, were back in the land (of course, many were not). The temple had been rebuilt and since that time wonderfully restored, though at a questionable cost. The priests running the temple were happy enough, and the Pharisees were gaining strength as the religious leaders of God’s people. Yet there was no king on David’s throne. Certainly Herod did not really fit that bill, even though he had funded the temple’s magnificent restoration.
All was at an impasse. God’s promises were there, and the beginning of them had come true, but it was a far cry from their completion. Meanwhile some of God’s people in various ways had been trying to take matters in their own hands, seeking to follow various paths of the tradition, all in hopes of God’s eventual deliverance from the heels of Roman oppression.
This had kept going for years, even decades. There was surely a desperate kind of silence in the air. The status quo seemed to have become the new reality. But God was at work.
Enter a young woman and an angel meeting her. Telling her that even though she had not known a man, she would become pregnant by the Power of the Most High through the Spirit. That she would bear a son and that he would rule on the throne of his father David. She would bear the one who would fulfill God’s promises to Israel and for the world.
God was with Mary, and gave her the grace to receive this good news, and in spite of the inevitable difficulty it brought. Would her Joseph really accept that she was pregnant and still a virgin? Surely not, neither he nor others. But God was at work, using the ordinary in the extraordinary way which only God can do.
We too, often live in relatively humble circumstances. Certain things need to be fixed in our worlds, and in the old world in which we live. But it seems like there is not fixing enough. We can trust God in and through Jesus to use the most ordinary in a most extraordinary way. God is at work through the Incarnation in incarnational ways in this world. To give in his love of himself fully, in Jesus. For us. God-with-us in Jesus, Immanuel.
So life is lived in hope, in spite of the impasse we all experience and are up against. In a hope which lives in all God is doing now, and anticipates all God will do in us and in all creation through and in Jesus. Nothing can stand in the way of this love in Jesus for us, meant to be at work in and in our midst and through us- for the world.