She might have been on her way to meet with the seamstress who would take her measurements and begin making her wedding gown. Or perhaps she was on her way to the market to purchase a few items for her new home. Brides love lists; perhaps hers was worn and torn from years of thoughtful planning and dreaming. Dreams of standing under the chuppah, of the feasting that would follow, of living happily ever after with her new husband. What she could not have planned for on that particular day was running into an angel with a peculiar greeting. It was not the customary Shalom, but rather a message of favor. And not just ordinary favor; she was highly favored.
What exactly do you do when a messenger from God says you are highly favored?
Sometimes we get a message so perplexing that all we can do is ponder. There are no words, just a muddled mess of thoughts. Hers were troubled thoughts. Troubled questions. And rightly so. The implications of this favor went far beyond the meticulous scribblings of her worn, treasured list, and it didn’t take her long to put two and two together. Isn’t it interesting how the contradictions of life can mess things up – not only our plans, but us too? Favor sounds promising (don’t we all want someone to owe us a favor?) but it most always comes with a price. A test, a trial. Sometimes favor goes against all social convention and sometimes your reputation gets smeared in the mud. Sometimes you get so discouraged you want to bail out. Sometimes you get so weary from carrying the heavy weight that you just want to quit, but it’s not quitting time. Not yet.
She didn’t have the Internet or a Blu-ray. She couldn’t fast-forward 2,000+ years to today and see how we celebrate, or join in our merriment. She had never heard the phrase Merry Christmas. She couldn’t hear the joyful carols or see the candlelight services. She had only the word of an angel and the promise of a Father. And so, she offered her best yes. May your word to me be fulfilled. And it was. Favor gave birth to a son and they named him Jesus. The Son of the Most High God, the Savior of the world.
On the eve of Christmas Eve, maybe we should remember first the favor. This journey filled with its complications and frustrations is not in vain. The promise will soon be fulfilled, and everything will make sense. And when God gives you favor? Tear up your list, and give it your best yes. Stand up and be steadfast. The Almighty knows who He can trust.