Of all the richness of our Advent lessons, one of my favorite is what we call the Annunciation, the passage from the first chapter of Luke in which the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her that in God’s plan for humankind, she is to give birth to a son she will name Jesus, who will be called “the Son of the Most High.” Perplexed, amazed, afraid, Mary asks this messenger of God how all this can be, “since I am a virgin.”
After Gabriel tells Mary how the Spirit of God will come upon her, he underscores the promise with these words that have always lingered in my heart: “And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
From this moment on, the young maiden and the older relative are bound together in the surety of God’s promises. Young and old together, hand in hand, heart to heart, living out God’s plan for them in different stages of their lives.
As I work with senior adults, I find myself always hungering for lessons of wisdom the experience of their years yields. A senior adult myself, I yet learn from those a decade or two ahead of me, even as I anticipate with those younger than myself what is yet to be. But we walk this road filled with God’s mystery together, young and old, assured of God’s promises for each of us.
In October my wife, Kathy, and I spent a weekend at her fiftieth college reunion. Because we went to the same college, I know many of her friends. For both of us it was a time to treasure the remembering of years past but also to look forward to life yet rich with newness and unanticipated blessings.
I pray these things for all of you as another Christmas reminds us of God’s care for us over all these many years.