Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-31
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy,
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
The virgin's name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Because of his love, God had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
I think it is many little girl’s dream at this time of year to play Mary in the school nativity play. It is a popular part to play, and I don’t think it’s just that she is the star (not literally!) of the show, but there is something about the character of Mary that is particularly attractive to little girls.
The bible tells us that Mary was ‘highly favoured’, and that she was blessed among women, but how you understand this will depend on your Christian upbringing. Whatever this is, though, all Christians will agree that Mary is an outstanding example of a life dedicated to God. But what was it that made Mary special?
The word in the original text that is translated ‘highly favoured’ has its roots in the word ‘Charis’ which is usually translated ‘grace’ or ‘gift from God’. A more literal translation would be ‘You, who have been graced’. The source of Mary’s grace (charis) was in God, not in Mary. Mary didn’t earn God’s favour; she was blessed by God purely because God chose to bless her.
But are you aware that you too are highly favoured by God; that he wishes to pour out his grace on you? In the opening paragraph of every one of St Paul’s letters he prays his readers know the grace (charis) of God and, in his greeting to the Ephesians (above) it occurs twice, as the root word for both ‘glorious grace’ and ‘freely given’. In the same way that Mary was highly favoured, purely because of the grace that God showered on her, rather than because of some intrinsic goodness within her, so God favours you, not because of any intrinsic goodness in you, but simply because he loves you.
You are highly favoured by God.
Think about that for a moment.
Lord God, you pour out your grace on me, not for what I have done, but simply because you love me. Help me to show your grace to others, not because of what they have done, but because you love them.
God of Grace, Amazing Wonder