How *will* this happen?

When I work with coaching clients, I often pray, as we begin, for the Holy Spirit to guide us or nudge us, but I literally never pray for the Spirit to come over us.

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. (Luke 1:35, CEB)

file-mar-02-11-10-42-amI definitely don’t invite the Spirit to overshadow us. Or me.

The angel gives Mary this assurance after she asks a perfectly reasonable question about her predicted conception. “How will this happen?”

How *will* this happen?

Well, Honey, the Holy Spirit will come over you and overshadow you.

I’m captivated by the word play employed in the Common English Bible in Luke 1. Zechariah, who will question the angel, is described as being “overcome.” The angel promises Mary, who will agree with the plan set out for her, that the Spirit will “come over” her. This sent me scampering to the Greek interlinear, since my own facility with Greek is nil.


They both meet the same angel, but in contrast with Zechariah, who the text says has fear “on-falling” him, Mary hears that the Spirit “shall-be-on-coming” and “shall-be-on-shading/overshadowing” her. He is spooked, although he is in the holiest of places when he meets the angel, the kind of place you would expect to meet a messenger of YHWH. She is … nowhere in particular, not even a place the gospel writer describes other than to say she is in Nazareth. It feels safe to say she wasn’t expecting a heavenly messenger, yet she is somehow more open to a visitation.

I want to say I am, too, but it’s a long way from nudging to “on shading,” isn’t it? Yet I want to be more deeply connected to God. I want to, and here I paraphrase Landon Whitsitt paraphrasing Luther, line my (not so little) ass up with God.

How *will* this happen?

Well, Honey, the Holy Spirit will come over you and overshadow you.

May I be more open to Your coming over me, Most High, more open to the ways You might overshadow my life, more in line with You. Amen.  

I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? I’m using the Common English Bible; tomorrow I’ll be reading Luke 1:57-80. Full schedule can be found here.

1 thought on “How *will* this happen?”

  1. “scampering over to the Greek Interlinear”…I die. Love that image and pretty you are the first to scamper to Koine Greek.

    Love this post, thank you.

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