Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1–11,16
by John D. Newman
“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.’”—Luke 1:30–31
When we think of expectations, we understand that something needs to be done. Some of those expectations are self-imposed, however, some of them are directed with authority into our lives. Can we even begin to imagine what Mary was thinking when the angel Gabriel told her this?
It is quite natural, and all right to have questions about the expectations that are placed on us. Even though Gabriel had already said she was highly favored and that the Lord was with her, Mary had questions. When we have questions, are we honest with ourselves and others or do we hold back with resentment because of unknowns? Do we look for understanding by asking the right people and the right questions?
The whole expectation is not completely our responsibility. When Gabriel explained to Mary what God was going to do, she realized the part that was expected from her. Often, we only see what we cannot do, and therefore we do not look forward to what verse 37 says: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” The only thing that we are responsible for is our part of the expectation that God has for us.
Mary said to Gabriel, “Let it be with me according to your word.” When we understand the expectation and we understand that it is never intended for us to do alone, the only thing left is to have faith in a God who asked us.
People will have questions for us during this Christmas season about what is expected to have a relationship with God. When we start to tell them that they are highly favored, and God loves them, will we be ready to respond? Will we explain that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to put our faith in God?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to understand the expectation of sharing our faith in you, especially in this Christmas season. Amen.
John D. Newman is the executive director of Henderson Settlement, a United Women in Faith National Mission Institution in Frakes, Kentucky.
The children’s art is from the 2023 Daily Prayer Guide.