Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.

A reading for Friday, December 20, 2013: Luke 1:26-38

"Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."  The angel greeted Mary with such words.  You are the one God has decided is good and worthy of the presence of not only the angel, but also the very Lord is present with you.  That's the message.

Mary is perplexed at such words.  How can this be?  The Lord or all earth and sky has decided that a peasant girl from the underside of an empire is good and worthy.  When all of the rest of the world sees her as less than a man, with no lineage and citizenship, and nothing of wealth or power - still God has decided that she is worthy.

That's the good news for Mary.  God gets to decide who is worthy.  Only God.  Not money, or power, or gender, or nationality, or color, or tribe, or citizenship, or employment status, or mobility or age, or anything else in all of creation gets to determine what is worthy to God.  Only God gets to decide.

And God decides that Mary is worthy...

Now to some people, that's not good news.  Simply because they do not who God is and what God is all about.  They see God as arbitrary and discriminating.  Some people think God is an overly serious, condemning deity that delights in showering down wrath.  God is all about teaching us to behave ourselves, and isn't above punishing those that don't obey.  These are the Christians you know that are always against something, and never seem to be in favor of anything.

If that's what you think, then I urge you to go back and read the whole story of God.  From the beginning to the end, read it all.  It's a love story, about a God that is so crazy about human beings that no matter what we do as a human race we still cannot push God away from loving us.  There are some real scoundrels in scripture.  Jacob the liar and the cheat.  Rahab the prostitute.  David the adulterer and murder.  Saul the persecutor of Christians.  And on and on... Yet, God loves them all.  Even if they are not very lovable.

God decides who is worthy.  Nothing else.  If God loves you, you're okay, and the open secret is that God loves all of creation.  God loves me and God loves you.  Not because you are righteous or because you are something special.  Not because you are lovable.  But simply because God chooses to greet you in the very same way the angel greets Mary...

As we prepare for the last hurried, crazy days before Christmas I invite you to simply hear the greeting of Mary one more time.  Only this time, imagine it's given to you...

"Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

God has chosen.  God has chosen you!


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