Read: Luke 1:26-30
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (v. 28)
When was the last time you were totally surprised in a wonderful way? I often travel on behalf of Western Theological Seminary, and this past winter I had the opportunity to go to Uganda to experience the enthronement of the new archbishop, Stephen Kaziimba. My wife, Katie, happened to also have a business trip then and so my parents agreed to watch our children. When we returned to pick up our kids and retrieve our car, we discovered that my parents had installed new snow tires on our car! Their generosity caught us off guard—we were quite surprised by this unexpected and delightful gift.
Our surprise pales next to Mary’s. The angel Gabriel appeared and greeted her as “favored one.” The Bible says she was “greatly troubled,” which is understandable. I’d be greatly troubled too if I saw an angel. On top of that, there was his curious greeting. What had she done to earn God’s favor? This is the nature of grace. It is an unexpected and delightful gift, one that we do nothing to earn, one we cannot earn, yet given to us anyway. God smiled on Mary, and through Mary’s Son, God smiles on all of us. The angel’s simple message: “Do not be afraid . . . for you have found favor with God” is not just for her. It is God’s Advent message for us too. —Andy Bast
As you pray, cultivate an awareness of the unexpected and delightful gifts God has given you.