12.22 Advent Devotional
Today's Advent Devotional, on Luke 1:26-38, is written by Ty Gomez.
Ty is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and a labor attorney in private practice in Dallas. Ty is married to Myra and together they have two daughters, Sophie and Addie.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 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. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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
As we prepare for Christmas, much effort and energy is devoted to the giving of gifts. And while it is clear that commercialism and materialism often serve as distracting influences from the true meaning of Christmas, it is equally clear that Christmas is a time of giving.
It is also a time to recognize and reflect upon the gifts that we’ve been given.
We can only wonder about Mary’s first thoughts upon hearing that God had "favored" her, a young and unwed woman, with a child in her womb. The scripture tells us she was "perplexed." I’m thinking this may be a bit of an understatement.
How about dumbfounded, terrified, shocked, flabbergasted, or stupefied? To put her possible reaction in the context of a popular 80’s sitcom: "What you talkin’ bout, Gabriel?"
Yet Mary, having heard what this gift would become, accepted the daunting responsibility to nurture what she’d been given, saying: "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."
As the end of Advent draws near and we move closer to Christmas, this passage provides a moment to reflect on the fact that, like Mary, we are favored by God, who loves each of us. Being favored, we are each bestowed with priceless gifts. Like Mary, our gifts are important to the coming of God's kingdom of justice and peace on earth.
During this Christmas season, we are called upon to recognize the importance of those gifts, give thanks and accept the responsibility to lovingly nurture what we’ve been given. Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to God’s word.
How has God favored you with gifts and how will you nurture them in the coming year?