The Joy of Possibility

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Readings: Psalms 24; 150, 1 Samuel 2:1b-10, Titus 2:1-10, Luke 1:26-38


“For nothing is impossible with God.”

So concludes the angel Gabriel when he tells Mary she will be the mother of the long-awaited messiah, and that her cousin Elizabeth, thought to be barren, will give birth also.

Do we believe Gabriel’s claim?

It’s easy to doubt. We don’t always get what we pray for, even when those prayers are frequent and fervent. We are witnesses to terrible tragedy. People we love get sick and die. Addictions destroy lives. Anger destroys families.

And yet…

People forgive loved ones for doing terrible things. Submission to a higher power restores sobriety to the hopeless. Terminal diagnoses are defied. Survivors of terrible tragedies make peace with their enemies, rebuild their lives, and inspire others. Each of these things at some point seems like an impossibility, but they all happen. Certainly not every time, or even as often as we would like, but they do happen. And only through God’s grace.

Advent reminds us that in the darkest times, our God creates possibilities. Jerusalem had been under Roman occupation for over 60 years at the time of Christ’s birth. Several self-proclaimed messiahs had already died trying to win the freedom of the Jewish people. Then an angel appeared to a young girl of no significance, and announced the impossible. Even if we aren’t sure about the whole angel-virgin-manger story, the truth of a Messiah who upends expectations and continues to free us until this very moment seems impossible.

The impossible is not just the highly improbable. The impossible is something our minds and spirits can’t even conceive. A messiah who conquers his enemies by being crucified? Not on the radar. A kingdom where the last are first and the first are last? Not something we’d plan for.

Our God is a God of inconceivable possibility. He is with us in the midst of our suffering, which itself is a seeming impossibility. Mary did not wait to rejoice until God’s promise was fulfilled – she began when the possibility was revealed to her. Surely this joy was not without its own terrors for a young girl whose pregnancy would raise questions and even hostility. Even in the face of fear and suffering, let us rejoice because God is creating possibilities beyond our imaginations.

Comfort: Nothing is impossible with God.

Challenge: Watching the news and hearing about world events can be very disheartening. Try to spend as much time looking for news about possibilities as being fed news about tragedy.

Prayer: Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit. From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. (Psalm 17:1-2)

Discussion: Have you ever experienced something you would have thought impossible?

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