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Thought for the week - 20 December 2020

Advent 4. Gospel - Luke 1.26-38

Well, it has happened again. I’m just so lucky! Once again I have been specially pre-selected and pre-authorised to have a brand new credit card! No further checks required, all I have to do is sign up online and I can have my new card before Christmas! It might even mean that I can get a few extra treats for our Christmas celebrations. And after all, I can do what I like as Tesco tells us there is no naughty list this year!

Well of course, its all fine until you read the small print. The credit limit is yet to be decided, but whatever it is, the interest rate on every purchase is 119% APR. 119%!!

I might be specially chosen – but my goodness there is a cost!

I wonder if Mary felt like that? After all she had been specially chosen. The Angel confirmed as much. “Hail so highly favoured” he says, “The Lord is with you.”

“Hang on a minute” says Mary, “What’s all this about? What do you mean, highly favoured?”

Then like me reading the small print, Mary discovers the truth.

She is not yet married, but will have a son – an illegitimate son. She will bring scandal on her husband to be.

But I’m a virgin says Mary

Don’t worry says the angel, God will get round that. Also, you wont be on your own, your barren cousin Elizabeth has already done a similar deal – with God’s help she is pregnant too!

Mary agrees, but one wonders if she can even begin to contemplate the cost to her – and indeed to her as yet unconceived Son. We know the story don’t we. To echo the later words of Simeon, her son is to be rejected and suffer deeply – and a sword will pierce her own heart too. With hindsight we can see it, we see pictures of it, Jesus hanging in agony on the Cross, with Mary weeping at the foot.

We are told over and over this year, that Christmas will be different. It will of course. Like everyone, I long to see family and friends. I long to sit round a family table, I long for our home to full of grandchildren. I feel so deeply for those who will be alone, for the residents of nursing homes, still unable to see loved ones.

But I do hope that as Christmas approaches this strange year there might just be the opportunity to look a little deeper into the mystery of what it truly means, and for those who find it difficult to discover a new resonance of the Christmas story with their own story.

At its heart, there is a frightened, lonely young girl. A girl who can’t see what is ahead. But above all a girl who simply trusts, that with God all things are possible.

Above all in this strange, disconcerting year, let us try to project that message of hope, that message that God is in the end, in charge. Let us try to see his love in action in the works of science and in simple acts of service, friendship and mercy. One practical thing to do. We have an ample supply of posters for your windows. Why not take one and display it to spread the simple message of the true Christmas story? Why not take one or two for friends?

Unsurprisingly, I’m not going for that credit card – but I’m going to look at Mary, and try my best, with her to say, “Let it be done to me according to your will.” Will you join me?


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