URC Daily Devotion Sunday 20th December 2020

Sunday 20th December – Gabriel’s Message

This simple Basque carol tells the story of the Annunciation.

St Luke 1 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “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. 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.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her

Gabriel’s Message
Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

This can be heard here

1. The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow his eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

2. “For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

3. Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

4. Of her, Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:1
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!


“Whose child is this?”  I imagine Mary faced that question a few times in the weeks and months after her encounter with Gabriel.

“Whose child is this?” There were plenty of options for her answer. Should she say Joseph’s? That’s what most people would assume, then they could just hurry forward the wedding and no-one would be any the wiser.

If not son of Joseph, perhaps son of David? It’s what the angel had said, and it had a nice, royal ring to it. But what does it mean, to have the throne of his father David? This would be a peasant baby, born in a backwater town of a backwater country. The glory days of David were long gone. Sure, Mary was distantly related to David, but she wasn’t exactly next in line for the throne. So why would this child be son of David?

Then there’s Son of God. What was that all about?

“Whose child is this?” Three answers. Son of Joseph, in his present situation. Son of David, in his past heritage. Son of God, in his future ministry.

We also have three answers to the question “Whose child am I?” We can look at our present situation and see what makes us the way we are. Our childhood, education, job, friends and happy or unhappy fortune all shape how we are. Some will be our own doing, others down to chance.

We are also children of our history. Much of what I think and do is determined by what my culture thinks and does. It is worthwhile attempting to step back every once in a while to check my assumptions and unspoken beliefs, and whether I am happy with that legacy.

Most importantly, we are children of God, by that same Holy Spirit adopted into his family and called to pray “Our Father …”


Gracious Lord,
You sent your son from heaven to earth,
that we on earth might be children of heaven.
Give us grace to live as daughters and sons
of you, our heavenly father
and to do your will on earth
as in heaven.


Today’s writer

Fay Rowland, graduate researcher Wesley House, Cambridge, member Christ the King, Kettering


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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