There she sits on the dusty ground, more child than woman, wearing much-mended hand-me-downs. Calloused hands are cooking bread on heated stones. A stranger hails her from the street: “Greetings, favored one.” She snorts, turning over the bread. Favored one? Must be talking to someone else. She tunes him out. He comes closer, still talking: “you will bear a son.” Snickering, she grabs a morsel of bread from the stones and hands it to the man, waving him on his way.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High—” She chuckles. Persistent, isn’t he? “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.” Stifling a giggle, she rolls her eyes. “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” She is shaking with barely suppressed mirth. “Of his kingdom there will be no end.” The floodgates break and she laughs. When she catches her breath, she looks the man in the eye and gasps: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
He silently waits until her laughter is under control and she has wiped the tears off her face. He perseveres. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Yeah. Right. Enough of this. She tosses the bread into a cloth and bundles it in her arms. “Therefore the child to be born will be holy.” On her feet. Time to go. “He will be called Son of God.”
She pauses mid-step. A memory has stirred. Fireside talk. Heated Sabbath debate. Much-repeated prayers. A boy-child. “To us a son is given”—were those the words? She examines the stranger once more, blinking, off balance. He hands her the morsel of bread she had given him. “Greetings, favored one.” She is no longer laughing.
How do we listen to God’s calls to us? Why are we so eager to think that God is talking to someone else?
God, keep us mindful that you perform great things through ordinary people. Amen.