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Advent Devotional, December 17th

Luke 1:26–38

What’s in a greeting, and how shall one respond to a surprising visitor? Well,

it depends—especially if that greeting comes in angelic form. Mary is at

least in good company. Luke’s story has carefully structured her response to

mirror that of Zechariah (1:12): She is “terrified” (not “perplexed”) and full of


But tucked in the angel’s greeting is a clue to what’s going on here—and the

one thing that has the power to transform that fear. “Greetings, favored one ...

for you have found favor with God.” As the saying goes, the story loses a little

in the usual translation. In the original Greek, the word translated “favor” is

actually the word “grace.” It is as if to say, “Mary, you have been graced by the

presence of God.”

For us, too, that is the greeting that calls for our response as we stand in this

fourth week of Advent. The surprising good news of grace is the presence of

God, transforming our fears into the joy of God’s wonderful promise at Jesus’


Merciful God, may we hear in your word of promise the surprising note of grace that

has the power to transform all our fears into a welcome joy at your visitation. Amen.

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