Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Hark The Herald Angels Sing"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 1:35 – The angel said to [Mary], "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God." (NRSV)
Did you notice the hidden miracle here? It's the conception of new life within Mary's womb. This, I say, is Advent's hidden miracle! Nobody witnessed this amazing overshadowing of the Spirit, not even Mary. Yet, what followed would be noticed, first by Mary, then Joseph, and soon the community. Thirty years would pass before the hidden miracle revealed its potency — through Jesus' public ministry. His teachings and healings bore evidence of the mighty wind of the Spirit. It blew across ancient Palestine. Unsuspecting citizens, whether rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, were tossed in the mighty wind — swept up in its unstoppable force. Yet, no one saw the hidden beginning; no one identified the moment. But they certainly witnessed the effect, through God's incarnate Son. Doesn't that remind you of Jesus' words to Nicodemus:
John 3:7-8 – Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above." The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (NRSV)
Did you notice the hidden miracle here? It's the conception of new life birthed within the hearts of sinners. It's the miracle of spiritual rebirth through the same Spirit who overshadowed Mary.
Perhaps you feel unclear about this "rebirth" teaching … understandably. After all, both too little and too much has been made of it. While many professing Christians disregard any need for new birth, others try to contrive it through human methods — to make the wind blow as they see fit. Many mistakenly rely on certain behaviours or initial emotions as proof, rather than to wait for enduring evidence. Perhaps you wonder about yourself, asking, How real is this hidden miracle within me personally?
Mary's testimony may help. After all, her experiences are common among those truly born of the Spirit. Consider these examples, drawn from Luke 1 and 2:
- 1. Mary was bewildered initially.
2. She was personally assured of God's hand in her situation.
3. She fully submitted herself to God's plan.
4. She sensed God's favour upon her.
5. She deeply felt her humble and unworthy state.
6. She saw herself as part of God's grand purpose.
7. Her joy erupted into heartfelt adoration.
Do such experiences reflect your own life? If not, why not approach the heavenly Father for insight? He knows your need best, after all, and He is also eager to "give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13b NRSV)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise You for Advent's hidden miracle, and for the ongoing miracle of rebirth. May this apply to each of us personally. Help us, like Mary, to treasure such things in the secret places of our hearts. May we, too, ponder over the marvels of Your Spirit's mighty wind. Amen.