"Shall I Be Mother?"
This is a colloquial British phrase said when one is reaching for the teapot to serve tea which is usually responded to by things like 'black please' or 'one sugar' or 'just a spot of milk, please.' I just heard it again while watching the Iron Lady movie where Meryl Streep plays brilliantly Margaret Thatcher. (Netflix-highly recommend it)
This reminded me of the questions Elizabeth and Mary both must have had. Shall I---be Mother? Its a question that got answered- complete with names…yes, so sure am I here is his name.
The spiritual inquiry is met with a pretty clear answer in both cases. Its definitive, its strong, its -here is what is going to happen. Are you with us here? the Angel seemed to wait for a response after the initial skepticism- How can that happen? I haven't been with a guy- promise. Then the Angel says, God will get the job done (nothing is impossible with God, remember). He proposes and waits for a respose . This is the reverse-totally unlike the fallen angels or demons who found the daughters of men so beautiful they raped them-the Nephalim. God proposes and gets consent after waiting for the answer. The demons rape. God proposes nicely.
The same gentlemanly angel goes to Elizabeth who is ancient and beyond menopause one assumes. Like Sarah you can hear the laughter under her breath. (Isaac's name means 'Laughter' it seemed so ridiculous- it was laughable even)- But what did God do when Zechariah doubted it? He just shut him up until he went with the program- listen, you don't open your mouth until you affirm his name is John.
So here we have God doing what only God can do- because it was beyond human capacity or conniving to concoct and who really would want to? Mary might have liked to get pregnant a little later- Elizabeth a little earlier- but God has plans that don't fit our schedules sometimes. God operates out of time and inside time-because he is eternal.
And so next Sunday we have what we associate with babies- Baptism- the Baptism of the Lord. It happens that the Lord was adult baptized at the start of his ministry- age around 30 we think. But it birthed a new kind of ministry-or a new dimension to his ministry. It birthed a new start into the years where his teaching was the richest, and the mission the clearest. God took about 30 years to unfold that plan so it was manifest to the world while it was simmering inside him for much of his life--at least from the time he was 12 in his 'father's house' reading Talmud -Torah in the Temple.
God's promises are true and unfailing. Nothing is impossible with God. Because he is God.