As the sun moved beneath the western horizon, Mary’s family stood around the eight-branched candle holder. A reverent joy inhabited the room as the household prepared to light the first candle of the Festival of Lights—a celebration of God’s deliverance of his people from the oppression of the Seleucids, many decades before.
Adiya stood next to Mary with a hand on the young woman’s shoulder. A sheen formed across Mary’s eyes as her father offered the traditional blessings. So difficult to observe the many lasts a woman faces with their family while awaiting marriage. For the last time, Mary watched her mother begin the festival with the lighting of the first candle. She joined in the closing prayer of blessing and then turned toward the doorway.
She walked outside and sat on the ground with her back to the house. She shivered as the air chilled.
Adiya knelt next to the girl—not in an effort to console her but out of respect for their new visitor. She bowed her head before Gabriel, General of the Heavenly Host.
“Rejoice, favored woman!” proclaimed Gabriel. “The Lord is with you.”
Adiya turned to Mary. The young woman who shook at the greeting of the stranger standing before her. She wrapped an iridescent wing around the child.
“Do not be afraid, Mary,” said Gabriel, “for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.
Mary recognized the nature of the messenger before her. Her voice quivered as she lifted a confused look to Gabriel. “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” Mary looked left then right. Adiya followed suit. No people wandered the streets. A single light flickered in the window of a neighboring home.
Gabriel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Mary lowered her head back to the ground. “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Gabriel returned to the unseen domain and smiled at Adiya. She still knelt with a wing wrapped tight about the girl. “She is a special young woman. I fear your role of protection will become much more perilous.” He extended his wings and began to rise into the air. “She will feel compelled to visit Elizabeth. Eldwyn will assist you in protecting her.”
Adiya contemplated the meaning of the Creator and Lord being born of a woman. God’s plan was perfect. That certainly did not mean Adiya understood. Many of the prophetic messages of the past millennia began to take shape in her mind. She stood and followed Mary back into the home.
Mary bid her parents “good night” and went to lay down in her bed.
Adiya sat and watched the child-become-woman sleep. In the stillness of the night, blinding light flooded the room. Adiya’s eyes struggled to adjust.
The figure of a dove with wings like tongues of flames descended and alighted on Mary. The True Light had come into the world to provide deliverance for His people.
All Scripture from Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) - Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.