The 4th Sunday of Advent

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Luke 1: 26-38

What a joy to find favor with God! What I find so awesome about God’s love is that it never rests in a vacuum. God’s love is never an isolated incident. God’s love pours, connects, sinews, and wears flesh. Gabriel did not just have wonderful news for Mary, he had glorious news for the world. A world that too often has somber news and an air of despair. Love adds value.

I wonder what Mary thought of herself prior to her encounter with Gabriel. Was she like so many of us, uncertain of her purpose? No matter where her self-worth was, Gabriel undoubtedly brought news that blessed her abundantly. Mary proved faithful when facing the fantastic. Although she was confronted with news that surpassed her capabilities, she did not succumb to doubt.

When my elementary school classmates were picking teams during recess, it was rare for me to be selected first. It was quite discouraging to see my ragtag teammates and the defeat that was sure to follow. But my feelings of self-pity dissipated when my ragtag group found victory. We did not look like winners but we were. We did not even know we were winners but we won. I often picture Jesus as the ultimate captain in this regard. God seems disinterested with picking folks who seem to be the best and rather delights God’s self by imbuing others with divine value. God arrives on the proverbial pick up courts of life and is willing to declare that God has next and is able to run with whomever is willing. It is a comfort to understand that I cannot keep up with God but it is God who enables me and God who makes the impossible, possible.

A prayer for this day:
Lord, we need you to open our eyes. 

Let us see your children in the fullness of their potential. 
Show us who you have called us to be.
Break through any lenses that only show faults and limitations.
May we be Your instruments and glorify You with our lives.
In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen. 

Chris Burton (M. Div., 2015)
Special Education English Language Arts Teacher
Juan Morel Campos Secondary School
Brooklyn, NY

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