The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and says "Greetings, you who are highly favored by God."
I know its Christmas and we're to be jolly and stuff, but this has been haunting me this advent.
"You who are highly favored by God"...Blessed.
God's anointing. Favor. Blessing. On Mary?
When I think of favor, blessing or anointing, I think of health...prosperity...Midas touch...No matter what I do...It will turn out well.
And yet Mary is a 13-15 year old virgin. She has gotten pregnant out of wedlock, an offense worthy of being stoned in that culture. She has to be looked down upon by her hometown. And how is she going to explain it to them? Or to Joseph? "Oh the Holy Spirit knocked me up!" I'm not sure of the reaction she'd get...actually I'm quite sure of it...and it wouldn't be pretty.
Oh and when you go to have this illegitimate kid...there will be no place for you to labor except the barn. Oh and shortly after you have this kid, you who are highly favored of God, will need to flee for your life from King Herod. Oh and then, this gift from God, oh Mary, you who are highly favored, you're going to watch him be beaten, scorned, mocked, spit on, bloodied, broken and hung on a cross to die.
My point? Maybe biblical concepts of blessing and favor mean something drastically different than the American concepts of blessing and favor.
And God's aim isn't to prosper you, but to crush you and make you new.
So, may you and yours be highly favored and blessed by God this Christmas and New Year.
And may you endure and survive that favor and give glory to God.