#Imagine: Week 4 Devotional

December 21, 2020

Luke 1:26-38

“For nothing will be impossible with G-d” v. 37

In this 2020 Advent season, we recognize the reality that Christ is with us, yet there are many examples in our lives and the world that remind us that Christ’s reign is not fully here.

However, in the last three weeks of Advent, we have mediated this tender reality through the practice of imagination.

Through the gospel writers’ invitation, we discovered how the practice of imagination can help us uncover new ways to see our past, present, and coming future with Christ

In the last few weeks, we discovered imagination…
As a new beginning
With persistence
In community
In the wilderness

And on this fourth Sunday of Advent, as we await the coming reign of the Christ child, we discover imagination as power, given through the perspective of the Gospel of Luke through Christ’s mother, Mary.

In the opening chapter of Luke, there are many introductions. We encounter the author, the priest Zechariah, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and in Luke 1:26-38, we meet Mary, Mother of the Son of God, Jesus.

In v. 26, Luke introduces Mary as society sees her.

She is described as being from a rural town, a virgin, and engaged. Then, the Angel of the Lord sees her and says, “favored one, the Lord is with you…You have found favor with God!”

Young Mary, seen only valuable in her context by her engagement and virginity, is acknowledged and affirmed as favored in the presence of the divine.

When I hear this divine interaction, I remember all those who are unseen, and I imagine the Angel of the Lord favoring the pregnant persons
in Aleppo, Syria,
in the COVID-19 unit in El Paso, Texas,
in the Detention Centers
On the streets recently evicted from their home
All who face oppressive systems and structures

In this text, I imagine God saying to us, see and favor those you choose to avoid.

And this is precisely what the Gospel of Luke has done. Mary, who in the world is unfavorable in status, is favored in the eyes of God.

Theologian Stephanie Buckahnon Crowder calls this the great reversal. She writes, “Mary’s social standing is quite low. Elizabeth’s pregnancy will enhance her status even further, at least initially, but there is a reversal. Mary is given a privilege far beyond that of her well-to-do cousin: the birthing of God’s son.”

The Gospel of Luke eliminates the status structure and reimagines a world where all are seen and valued.

Although the Angel of the Lord has favored Mary, Mary is still aware of the implications of the unexpected pregnancy, and she asks the Angel, “How can this be possible”?

The Angel responds to her fears instructing how the spirit will intercede and then reminds Mary that “nothing is impossible with God.”

This statement is empowering.

Although Mary does not fully know the future, she trusts that God will lead her. As people of faith who have no certainty of what the future will hold, we can trust in our God with persistence and community to reimagine what needs to be.

Author Adrienne Marie Brown writes, “The future is not an escapist place to occupy. All of it is an inevitable result of what we do today, and the more we take it in our hands, imagine it as a place of justice and pleasure, the more the future knows we want it and that we aren’t letting go.”

In 2021 and beyond, may we harness the power to imagine what needs to be, to live into God’s kin-dom fully.

Have a Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas.

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