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There are no Advent midweek worship services this year (2020).
Pastor Lara is providing weekly devotional reflections. It is our prayer that these reflections bring you a sense of hope and peace.
December 16, 2020
Six months later, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a young woman named Mary; she was engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. Upon arriving, the angel said to Mary, “Rejoice, highly favored one! God is with you! Blessed are you among women!”
Mary was deeply troubled by these words and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. The angel went on to say to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You’ll conceive and bear a son, and give him the name Jesus. His dignity will be great, and he will be called the Only Begotten of God. God will give Jesus the judgment seat of David, his ancestor, to rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his reign will never end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have never been with a man?”
The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you – hence the offspring to be born will be called the Holy One of God. Know too that Elizabeth, your kinswoman, has conceived a child in her old age; she who was thought to be infertile is now in her sixth month. Nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary said, “I am the servant of my God. Let it be done with me as you say.”
With that, the angel left her.
Only Luke’s gospel includes the conversation between the Archangel Gabriel and Mary. It’s a conversation of questions, explanations, and then consent to bear a child who will change the world.
According to Luke, Mary isn’t passive in this – in fact, she is spiritually fundamental to the creation of this child. Luke goes on to tell us of her prophetic, passionate, and determined response – which became her vision for her son.
Instead of dreaming of a child that would elevate her in the world, Mary dreamed of a child who would liberate all the lowly and fill the hungry with good things – who would topple regimes of power and raise up the oppressed in his new world.
But the danger of romanticizing or idealizing Mary’s story is that it misrepresents her humanity and keeps her story at arm’s length from ours.
Mary’s story and witness in the season of Advent invite us to anticipate and expect that God will act in our lives – specifically, that God’s activity will change things in ways we can only dream of. And in a year like 2020, we can’t help but dream big.
We dream of everyone receiving life-giving care when they’re sick. We dream of a vaccine for Covid that will help people stay healthy. We dream of a living in a world where all people are valued for who they are instead of for the color of their skin or their gender identity or how much money they make or their immigration status.
These dreams are big. And they start with ordinary people, like you and me. This week, I invite you to ask where God is asking you to participate in these dreams. What is the first step God is asking you to take?
May you take that first step with a sense of assurance and also wonder.
Let us pray: O God, in these weeks of longing and anticipation, we thank you for your action. Help us to know how to participate with you in making this world the place you created it to be. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.