Luke 1:26–38 (NRSV)
Verse 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, Verse 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. Verse 28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." Verse 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Verse 30The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Verse 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. Verse 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. Verse 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Verse 34Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" Verse 35The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. Verse 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. Verse 37For nothing will be impossible with God." Verse 38Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
In her terror and fear at this unexpected birth announcement, Mary can at least muster a question, “How can this be?” In the angel’s message, Mary has heard two “words” of promise: “of his kingdom there will be no end,” and “nothing is impossible with God.” Once again something important to Luke is hidden in the usual translation. In the original Greek, “nothing” is literally “no word.” That is to say, “with God no word (i.e., no promise) is ever impossible.”
The new possibilities of God’s promise are already breaking in for Mary. In the very next breath Mary responds by assuming her new role as faithful “servant”: “Let it happen to me in accordance with your word!”
We stand poised near the end of our Advent journey ready to celebrate the wondrous birth of Jesus “in accordance with God’s grace-filled word of promise.” May that word once again inspire us to respond like Mary as faithful servants of the good news.
God of mercy and grace, inspire us with the good news of your promise made real for us in the birth of Jesus your Son, enable us to respond as faithful servants of the ever new possibilities of your kingdom. Amen.