During Advent, I read the biblical narratives of Jesus’ birth over and over again. I was particularly drawn to the account in the book of Luke and Mary’s response to a holy encounter. In the first chapter, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she will become pregnant with a boy who will become the king whom she is to name Jesus. “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.” (Luke 1:31-33, NRSV)
It is at this point that many people familiar with the story like to skip straight to the dramatic end; Mary’s incredibly devout response to the pronouncement: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38, NRSV) Between the divine declaration and the devout dedication, though, we get a glimpse of Mary’s humanity, our own reality. “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be…’” (Luke 1:34, NRSV) Before Mary confirmed she was all in, she had questions; she wanted clarity and probably some reassurance on how someone like her would be able to do something so great. She was young. She was not well-off. She was inexperienced to say the least. But she was called to lead, to give birth to royalty, to exercise courage and faith, defy social norms and transcend natural laws to shape both past and present forever.
This snippet from Luke’s birth narrative is a reminder that God works through ordinary people to do the most extraordinary things! And, centuries after the King of Kings was born, God is still inviting people like Mary, like you and I to play a role in the greatest love story ever to be told. Today, I encourage you to believe! Believe God can work through you to make a difference in the world– right where you are, just who you are, and with what you already have. God may ask you to do something that seems within your reach, like call a family member or visit a sick neighbor. God may also call you to do something that seems like a stretch, like give to a cause until you say “Ouch!” Whatever the invitation, my prayer is that your response will be, “Here am I… let it be with me according to your word.”