The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Many of us understand what it means to be favored. It means that we receive special attention from someone, and usually for something that we have done or for something we represent. Well performing athletes for instance, are highly favored by coaches looking to build a winning team. Beautiful women are favored by agents looking to sign up attractive models or actresses but most of the human population expect to be ordinary, and perhaps Mary felt ordinary too, until God interrupted her ordinary life.
There was nothing particularly outstanding about Mary. She was a young teenager, living in an obscure village. She was female and thus relegated to a lower station in Jewish society at that time, and she was unmarried; betrothed to a lowly carpenter, named Joseph, not Brad Pitt or George Clooney, just Joseph. But the angel of the Lord visits her and declares words that forever change her history and her station in life, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary had done nothing extraordinary to deserve this favor; she had no special talent that set her apart from all the other young women in her village, but there was something about Mary, that attracted the God of the universe to her, and that something was the fear of the Lord.
The Bible says in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Beloved, if you are feeling ordinary this Christmas season, I want you to know you are already highly favored because God’s attention is on you. Christmas comes as a reminder, that God favors ordinary (Luke 4: 18-19). If you feel like you’ve been left out or locked out socially, emotionally, psychologically, financially or even spiritually, look to God, seek his face and walk in the fear of the LORD. He alone has the power to turn your ordinary into extraordinary this season. Christmas is the declaration that humanity is highly favored; so favored in fact that even though you and I may not have done anything particularly outstanding, even though we were steeped in sin, God was willing to divest himself of his divinity, take on the full likeness of humanity, and be born in a humble stable so that we might inherit an extraordinary legacy, as heirs to the Kingdom of heaven, through him.
This Christmas, you may not receive a special gift from any special someone; and you may not be favored for your looks or for your talent, but celebrate the season anyway, because he has already given you the greatest and most priceless gift of all, his presence through the Holy Spirit. Christmas is the reminder, that you are highly favored and that your life will never be the same again. Christmas is the reminder that he is with you, and that he will never leave you nor forsake you. Christmas is the reminder that what the world considers ordinary is extraordinary in God’s eyes because of what Jesus Christ has done.
Loving God, thank you for the gift of Christmas. I rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus has come. Give me the joy, faith and wisdom of Mary that I might celebrate God among us without reservation or hindrance. Holy Spirit, thank you for your presence in my life, create in me a clean heart that I might abide in your shadow forever. Amen.