Christmas Eve | December 24
Read Luke 1:26-55
Living the dream—it’s what we all want. In our culture we are taught that it is owed us. We are to be the masters of our own ships and navigate those ships through calm waters. We desire it to always be, “Summertime when the living is easy.” Mary, a young Jewish girl, was living the dream. Granted, she didn’t have much wealth, but she was engaged to be married to a kind man, a carpenter, who would keep her safe and warm. Busily preparing for the most important day of her life, she is shocked into a transcendent reality. She meets an angel, not just any angel, the Archangel Gabriel. He comes with not just any message, but with the ultimate of offers: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Mary will be the mother of the Messiah.
But why? Why me, Mary? Because “you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. . . . Mary; you have found favor with God.” The word “favor” is the Greek word for grace. God has chosen to show his favor and grace to Mary. It is a fairy tale moment, and as in any fairy tale, there’s a life-threatening twist: the scandal of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
It is the offer of an unspeakable joy coupled with a crippling fear. Do the will of God and risk public humiliation—perhaps even death—or walk away and leave it to someone else. A thousand questions must have been coursing through her mind, but the one that is spoken is, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” In essence, Mary is saying, You know, this is impossible. How does this work? While Gabriel’s answer does not directly address her question, he does answer her heart. When Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” what he is saying is, You will not be alone and you will be able to do this because God’s grace is with you.
God called Mary to greatness, something he would never do without promising to be with her; and he gave her the power to be faithful, no matter how difficult the task. And so it is with us. God calls us to greatness, asking us to be faithful to the task ahead. Mary was asked by Gabriel, Are you willing to give up your dream and live God’s dream for your life and for the world? God asks the same of us. But he does not leave us without his grace. The choice is ours for how to respond.
Pray this prayer tonight:
And so Lord, we wait. We wait not knowing how our stories will end. We wait as Mary did, trusting in your grace and presence and power. We do not deserve to be chosen; and yet, not only have you chosen us, but you have filled us with your Holy Spirit. You yearn to bring life from us now as you did from her, those many years ago. Encourage us to choose your grace and life. Help us to be thankful for all of the great things you have done and will do for us. Guide us as we extend your grace from generation to generation. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.