(Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins is Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA)
“Mary was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”
Out of nowhere the angel Gabriel showed up and said to Mary, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” Quite naturally Mary found this greeting to be both startling and confusing. Luke tells us she was confused and uncertain about the meaning of Gabriel’s words.
While she doesn’t say this out loud, she must have communicated it very clearly for immediately Gabriel starts reassuring her and answering questions she hasn’t asked. After a career of bringing messages to human beings, the angel clearly knew how to read facial expressions and body language.
If Mary’s body language is important to the Christmas story, the body language of the church must matter also. What is our body language to the world this season? Is it an angry glare? Is it a dismissive glance? Is it a perturbed grimace?
What would body language that is caring, inviting, and welcoming and affirming look like? What is the body language of commitment to justice and peace?
Faith communities pay close attention to the words they speak and sing at Christmas. Perhaps it’s time we paid greater attention to our nonverbal communication, to our body language.