For Nothing Will Be Impossible With God

For the fourth Wednesday of Advent, I am glad to offer a reflection based on the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 1 beginning at the 26th verse.

Have you ever faced a situation where you were expected to accomplish the impossible?  Mary found herself in this position when the angel Gabriel informed her that she would conceive God’s son by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I imagine Mary had lots of questions – how can I become pregnant if I’m still a virgin?  Will my family and my fiancé believe this story?  Why would the Lord choose me, a teenage girl from a small town, for such an important assignment?

Just three short verses after Mary questions whether the angel’s predictions are possible, she consents to God’s plan for her life.  Mary’s yes to God changed the course of history.  She shifted from a posture of impossibility to possibility.    Although we refer to Mary as blessed, her consent didn’t lead to power or privilege or popularity during her lifetime.  Acknowledging God’s plan for her life was difficult.  It entailed vulnerability and humility.  Mary’s yes is a reminder that God’s plans often stretch us well beyond our comfort zone.  Having periods where we struggle doesn’t indicate that God is absent – it’s just part of what it means to be human.

Approximately two thousand years ago, Gabriel reminded Mary that nothing is impossible with God and this gave Mary the strength she needed to move forward.  Gabriel’s words are true today as God invites us to begin the new year with a sense of possibility and hope.  God the Father is present to guide and support us just as God supported Mary.

And we have something Mary didn’t have – we have Jesus as our savior.  The end of Jesus’ earthly life included crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.  Because Jesus defeated death, there is life on the other side of the grave for us.  2020 has been a tough year and we have a hard winter ahead of us.  Yet God has always called God’s people to tasks which demand our best efforts.  In fact, it is often the disappointments and failures of life that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on God alone.

Sometimes we seem surprised at the bumps in the road but God never promised that being a faithful disciple would exempt us from suffering.  What God did promise is to be a constant presence.  That’s why during the season of Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us forever.  In those moments when we begin to lose hope, we can turn to the examples of Mary and Jesus to remind us that nothing is impossible with God.  Amen.

- The Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee

VIDEO of December 23 Advent Reflection by the Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, Bishop, Episcopal
Diocese of West Tennessee, with Music for Meditation. Reflection based on Luke 1:26-38