Another timely one from Valerie Tarico: What the Nativity Story Would Sound Like with Free and Full Female Consent
A few excerpts:
So that Mary would not be overwhelmed by the heavenly messenger’s radiant glory, Gabriel adopted the form of an ordinary Jewish woman carrying an earthen water jug [Gabriel minimizes intimidation due to status differential]. When Mary went to fetch water at the town well, Gabriel approached and stood beside her at the well. “Greetings, blessed one!” he said. “You are favored of the Lord, and he is with you.”
Mary looked at the unfamiliar woman, wondering what sort of weird greeting this might be. “I beg your pardon?” she said politely. “I don’t think we have met.”
Gabriel inclined his head. “Gabriella,” he said with a disarming smile. . . . .
As he hoisted the full bucket, he spoke almost casually. “You know how some people have visions and receive messages from the heavenly realm?”
“Yes,” said Mary.
“Well, I am one of those people, and I came here to the well today because I have a message for you.”
. . . .
“Would you like to know my message?” Gabriel asked, and Mary nodded.
“Ok,” said Gabriel. “Here it is: Yahweh has decided to create a son who will be both god and man. His name will be Jesus.” He paused and then recited, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” He paused again and added, “Full disclosure: First he has to become a replacement for all of the pigeons and goats and sheep and cattle that are sacrificed in the temple for the forgiveness of sins. So, at age 33, he will be tortured and killed by the Romans and will rise from the dead [Gabriel candidly gives both pros and cons].
“If you are willing, God would like for you to be the woman who bears this child.” [He poses the proposition as a voluntary choice.] But God will continue to bless you and honor your righteousness whether you choose or not to bear this child. [He explicitly addresses any sense of threat based on Yahweh’s violent history].
“Do you have any questions?”
. . . .
He wondered fleetingly why Yahweh had chosen such a young person to make such a big decision, but he didn’t question God, not even for a second. After all, he and every other angel in heaven remembered how God had reacted when Lucifer started challenging God’s authority. Lucifer’s rebellion was the reason Gabriel had this job.
. . . .
That had been skepticism, right? Or was it fear? Perhaps the word “overshadow” had been a bit strong.
“It won’t hurt,” he said gently, “At least not the getting pregnant part. Do you have any other questions?”
Mary floundered, more than a little overwhelmed. I can’t say no to Yahweh, she thought. Out loud, she said, “Here am I, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.”
But Gabriel shook his head gently. “God does not ask this of you as his servant or slave, but rather of your own free will. [He clarifies that despite the power difference she has a real choice]. Take as long as you need to decide—he will know when you have chosen. [She is not pressured]. I would suggest given your age that you ask your father, but he would then be compelled to make the decision for you, so you will have to decide on your own.
. . . .
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