As we reach this fourth Sunday of Advent right on the very brink of Christmas, our focus is on Mary and her great gift of faith. ‘Do not be afraid Mary’, the angel says to her, ‘nothing will be impossible with God.’ We know the rest of the story. The impossible was indeed possible, not only at the birth of Jesus, but in the many miracles he performed, and most of all at his Resurrection. If God can accomplish these things, then imagine what God can do in your life. Advent is the season for imagining what is possible, for dreaming new dreams, for hoping beyond hope, and for remembering that God is indeed with us.
But it is also the season when hope can be hardest to find and dreams hardest to believe. Expenses may loom at a time when resources are scarce. Separation, grief, loneliness and depression are no strangers to the season, and make it for many, a difficult and indeed sad time. This year Christmas has arrived in strange and uncertain circumstances, where the world still seems out of kilter. We need Mary’s inspiring example of courage and trust in the face of uncertainty more than ever. Mary’s own journey was anything but easy. She had to travel to Bethlehem late in her pregnancy on a donkey of all things! She had to flee to Egypt when their lives, and the life of their child, were in danger. Yet, Mary offers us a remarkable and inspiring example of courage, patience and hope – hope that with God, even for us, the impossible is indeed possible.
And so, we walk ever closer to Bethlehem, and we begin to look for the vulnerable baby born in a stable. When we find him, we will remember that God has come to us in Jesus, who walked our journey and lived our life. May God’s peace be with you, wherever you are, both at Christmas and as we leave this strange and difficult 2020 behind and walk together with hope into a new year.