Reflection--part 1
Text: Luke 1: 26- 57

“Greetings, favoured one!” I guess that would stop you in your tracks … at least, it would me. There’s a different quality to it than “hey there, how’s it going.” “Greetings, favoured one!"-- and then add to that “the Lord is with you” … and now I’m thinking something’s up! Something’s coming! It’s no wonder Mary was unnerved, perplexed … wondering what sort of greeting this might be …where this is headed. What do you want with me?

This word “favour” -- we hear it repeatedly right up front in Luke’s Gospel …
We hear pregnant Elizabeth celebrating “the Lord has looked favourably upon me.”
On the night of Jesus birth, and the heavenly host lights up the sky, we hear them sing “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace on those whom God favours.”
And then at Jesus baptism, as he comes up out of the water, he and we are given to hear, “you are my beloved on whom my favour rests.”  Or as another translation puts it, “in whom is my delight”.

This is where it all begins! Or at least it seems this is God’s starting point. From the outset, however else we may have summed up ourselves, we bear God’s delight. We are God’s delight!

Do you know what it is to have God’s favour resting on you? To have God’s delight residing in you? What if this favour, this delight-- we take it to mean this alive energy of loving connection.

Mary Luti recalls a friend of hers describing how her mother blessed all nine children every morning as they left for school. The friend, the youngest, was last in line. Impatient, she'd try to escape, but she got a blessing whether she wanted it or not. Her mother died when she was sixteen. 50 years later she's almost forgotten her mother's face, but not the weight of her hand, the feel of her blessing … how it floods her with peace. [1]

I love that. “She got a blessing whether she wanted it or not.”
God’s favour is resting on us … we are God’s delight, like it or not! This energy of loving connection, we can’t stop it … but we can wake up to it. We can let it touch us, claim us, move us!

Greetings, favoured one! What if we were to hear that as a term of endearment … a way of God expressing "You are the apple of my eye. Your name is engraved on the palm of my hand."
What if we heard this as a greeting not uniquely for Mary?

Steve Garnaas Holmes goes on to wonder:

“What if there was nothing special about Mary at all?
What if she was not particularly pious or virtuous, but simply willing to hear the Word: “you have found favour with God.”
What if all that’s needed to ignite a miracle
is the willingness to accept God’s favour?
What if to bring salvation to the world all God needs of us
is to receive God’s delight in us?
To imagine God’s saving grace growing within us.
To trust God’s tender regard for us
despite our lowliness, despite our undeserving;
despite all the hardships and struggles,
even the sin and despair,
to trust God’s joy?
Not that we are better, only that we are beloved.
What if all God asks of us is
to say Yes to God’s Yes?
to hear God’s hope for us
and to reply with all our hearts,
“let it be with me according to your word.” [2]

What if all that’s needed to ignite a miracle is the willingness to accept God’s favour, God’s delight in us.
And to let this energy of loving connection have its way with us and through us?

Are we willing for a great thing to unfold in us?
Are we ready to let go of our excuse of inadequacy?
Are we willing to be inconvenienced, thrown off balance, discomforted?
Will we choose even against our own self-interest for the sake of the Divine within us?
Will we nourish God’s dream for the world growing within us?

The way is always open, of course, for us to turn away as it is for us to cross that threshold toward wherever Love’s power will take us.

We’re not given to see how Mary found her way to offer her YES … which is some of the beauty of this storytelling … the way the gaps make room for our imagination, for finding our own way.

Notice, before the messenger vanishes, Mary is told one more thing.
“Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son…”
In other words, “you’re not alone in this wild venture.”
AND in other words, age is no barrier to this flow of God’s energy of loving connection, whereby God’s dream for the world is brought to birth.

Greetings favoured ones! The Lord is with you … with us!

[1] Mary Luti, "God Bless You," posted November 13, 2015, on United Church of Christ, Still Speaking Daily Devotional

[2] Steve Garnaas Holmes, “Favour” posted December 10, 2019 on