Welcome and Opening Prayer
Leader: “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Reader 1: Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:26–33)
Reader 2: “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
Reader 3: The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
Reader 2: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:34–38)
*The Salvation Army Song Book
Song # 127 “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy”*
Explanation of Project—The Foster Care System: “Here I Am”
The projects listed are in various levels to cater to different groups. Level 1 can be done during one women’s ministries meeting. Levels 2 and 3 will include collecting items. If possible, set aside some space in the regular meeting room for the women to place the items throughout the desired time frame.
The Advent season is about preparing for the coming of baby Jesus. This project will focus on children in the foster care system who may find this season particularly difficult.
Fill out cards with prayers and words of encouragement to mail to the local Foster Care Agency. A search on the Internet can tell you which agency is near the corps.
Call the local Foster Care Agency and ask them if they are in need of particular items during the Christmas season. For example: diapers, blankets, toys, clothes. Plan which items your group can collect within a certain time frame to send to the agency. Choose one person or a group to deliver the items.
Check with the local Foster Care Agency and ask if your group can “adopt” a family that is about to be reunited. Collect items that the family may need. For example: clothes, toys, food, household items. Inquire if a representative of the agencies could come to the women’s ministries meeting to give a presentation regarding the foster care system.
Song # 125, “Gabriel’s Message”
Overshadowed By The Most High
In Luke 1, we read the story of Elizabeth who hadn’t been able to have children. In those days, this was considered a disgrace (verse 25) and probably overshadowed every moment of her life. In Matthew 1, we read the story of an unwed mother who would certainly have been subject to disgrace and divorce by her finance (verse 19). We recognize again how this situation would have overshadowed every aspect of her life.
We generally think of being overshadowed as a negative thing. No one wants to be overshadowed. It is not how we are meant to live. However, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by stress at work, problems within our families, daily temptations, or negative emotions such as shame and guilt. These often overpower us and make it hard for us to grow.
In Luke 1:35, the angel Gabriel says something interesting to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” If being overshadowed is something negative, why would the Lord do this? Instead consider that being overshadowed as a positive power of the Most High that conceals or overshadows in order to protect us.
God had a plan for Mary’s life. We can see throughout the gospels how that plan came together. First with Elizabeth, then with Mary. Also that plan continued through Joseph, the shepherds and wise men. Before, throughout, and after Mary’s pregnancy, we see the hand of God orchestrating the events of Jesus’ birth. We also see how God protected Mary—first from divorce and disgrace, then from those who intended to inflict physical harm to her family. He instructed Joseph to take the family to Egypt to protect them. The power of the Lord overshadowed Mary and protected her. This ensured that the “Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
This Christmas season, instead of being overshadowed by secular things, be overshadowed by the power of the Most High and trust that He will protect you from things that seek to harm you. Let Him tower over you and cover you in His power. Find solace and hope in the shadow of His power.
Closing Thoughts and Reflections
Discuss the following questions:
- What do we let overshadow us in our daily lives?
- How can we let God be the one to overshadow us?
- What are some ways that God has protected us?