“Gabriel appeared to her and said “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!”” Luke 1:28
As we draw nearer to Christmas it is time to start looking at some of the characters who were involved in that moment of heaven touching earth. And we begin with Mary, the girl who became the mother of God. The girl who carried the serpent crusher. The girl who raised the long waited Saviour.
There was nothing special about Mary. She was just another young girl, pledged to be married. She was a faithful girl, following God’s commands as best she could, but there was nothing special about her. She was not royalty. She was not rich. She was not related to the high priest. She was just an ordinary girl, pledged in marriage and trying to keep herself pure until then.
When suddenly an angel turns up with a message of God and everything Mary knew gets turned upside down. She didn’t anticipate this. She hadn’t hoped for this. Like all good Jewish people she would have longed for the coming of the Saviour, but she would never have dreamt she would be the one to give birth to Him, the one to feed Him. God moves in unexpected ways. God has plans. Plans that have been in place from before time. A masterplan to break the power of sin. A plan that involved all sorts of broken individuals. A plan that was both long prophesied and yet unexpected. A plan to bring us back into relationship with God.
And so the angel Gabriel comes and turns Mary’s world upside down, revealing her role in the masterplan for the salvation of all people. Revealing she is about to become a very major part of the family tree of God. There was nothing to make Mary stand out as being the one who should be chosen for this task. She had no special qualifications that made her the best candidate to be the mother of the Son of God. And yet she found favour with God.
And here’s the thing. We don’t earn our favour with God. We are not favoured because of who we are or what we do or what we don’t do. We are favoured because He loved us from the start. His favour is not something we deserve. But it is something we have.
Mary had a choice to make. Gabriel brought a message of favour from God, but also a task for her to accept or decline. She was to give birth to the Son of God. Through her womb heaven was to touch earth. This was going to be a difficult journey. She was a virgin, engaged to be married. To become pregnant outside of marriage carried huge risk for Mary. She could lose her social standing, her reputation, even her life. And the call goes out to each of us as we are called to play our part in sharing the good news of great joy with all the world. Following Christ and obeying the tasks He calls us to may mean risking losing or social standing, or reputation, possibly even our life. But the message of Christmas is God is with us, so may we have the faith to say like Mary “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38)