An Advent Journey: When God Became Small — Day Twenty-Five, Fourth Sunday


Luke 1:26-38, NRSV

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.

And here she is, that young virgin. Center stage as we move ever closer to Christmas Day. 

What a woman this is! A girl, actually. Young, impressionable, but . . . in tune with the God of the universe. Open to mystery and paradox. One who listened well, one who said a resounding, ‘YES.’

I cannot imagine it. I know this story so very well, and I love it. But in truth, I cannot imagine this scene. This visitation. This unveiling. This sweet acceptance.

Yet, here it is. She ‘found favor’ with God, simply by being her own sweet self. I imagine she had a good deal of (good and necessary) vinegar in her personality as well. How else could she have survived all of this? A compliant spirit, but a sturdy backbone — what a combo!

I really like her. She has spunk and strength even she doesn’t know about at this point in the story. She goes on to raise this little one into manhood, and then she is confused by all of it at times, and yet. . .

there’s that word again! 

And yet . . . she proves up to the challenge. 

All of the challenge that being the mother of God brings into her life. Ultimately, she becomes one of the earliest evangelists, a member of the church before it was called ‘the church,’ a faithful follower of the baby she bore.


Lord Jesus, thank you for loving your mom. Even as you were dying, you looked out for her. As all sons do, you got impatient with her sometimes, and you set her straight when she needed to be set straight. But through it all, you loved her well. Help me to love your mother well, too. And help me to love the mothering parts of me, too.



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  1. “I imagine she had a good deal of (good and necessary) vinegar in her personality as well. How else could she have survived all of this? A compliant spirit, but a sturdy backbone — what a combo!”

    Diana, I grew up with those plastic images of -to me- a dour Mary. One of my first memories after transferring to a convent school at age 9 was hearing that ‘Mary didn’t like little girls who chewed gum.’ I must confess that I never much liked this presented person, chewing gum aside. And as soon as I married, I hid my middle name away from the world – yup, Mary.

    Listening to the scriptures earlier, I began to wonder who she is, now. And it seemed I saw a very vibrant woman, dancing! And suddenly found that I want to meet her! Your words have added fuel to that desire 🙂 Thank you for all your insightful posts this wondrous season.

    • Mary is a beautiful name – own it! So glad you’ve had the gift of additional insight over time. I think she is amazing.

  2. What a great prayer.