The angel Gabriel from heaven came
‘Most highly favoured lady’ – hands up if you have never sung the alternative version, ‘Most highly flavoured gravy’? The problem with this carol, as with others, is its very familiarity: you may not sing the cheeky children’s version anymore, but when did you last think about the words?
‘Most highly favoured lady’ – really? An angel with wings and ‘eyes as flames’ appearing suddenly to a young girl must have been terrifying. And as for the message she receives, did she really understand what was going to be involved? The danger that acceptance would put her in? Did she really ‘meekly’ bow her head? ‘Meek’ has come to be synonymous with ‘weak’ today but we better understand the word if we think of a horse being guided by a skilled rider: the power of the horse is still there but is now under obedience and is being guided for a particular purpose.
At this time of year we reflect on Mary, a young girl who found she had to grow up quickly and face an uncertain future because of this encounter. A young girl who had the faith and courage to be obedient and allowed herself to be guided so that the promise ‘by seers foretold’ might be fulfilled. So indeed, ‘Christian folk throughout the world’ and ‘all generations’ have celebrated this ‘highly favoured lady’.
‘when I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.’
During this Holy season of Advent,
may we reflect and gain a deeper understanding of our faith,
learning obedience and trusting you to bring to birth
the fulfilment of your promises. Amen