Devotional for December 13
Blessed To Be A Blessing
Someone sneezes and we automatically say, “God bless you!” Someone sits down to eat and prays the “blessing”. Someone has talent, fame, happiness, or wealth and we say she is “blessed”, meaning lucky or fortunate. Someone demonstrates he is ill-informed, lacks social graces, or does something goofy, and we Southerners say, “Bless his heart!” Someone tweets a photo of a delicious meal, an exotic vacation, or a shopping spree with the caption, “Blessed!” or #blessed. Someone does a favor for us and we say, “Bless you!”
Blessed has come to mean privilege, comfort, or that all is going well in one’s life. In the case of Mary, the mother of Jesus, blessed had a far different meaning.
The dark-haired peasant girl was engaged to be married. She didn’t eat at a lavish table, or dress in finery. Into her simple life entered a messenger from God, who told her that she was pregnant with God’s son. At first she was afraid. When it dawned on her that she had been called to do something physically impossible, she didn’t say, “I can’t!” She said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” She accepted her calling as a blessing from God. The angel reminded her that nothing is impossible with God.
In Mary’s day, a blessing could be divine favor, cherished status, or something for which to be grateful. A blessing didn’t always mean happiness would follow. Mary would witness Jesus endure rejection, shame and crucifixion. Though God had chosen Mary for the sacred task of bringing Jesus into the world and she considered herself blessed, she would not experience undiluted joy.
Mary raced to find her cousin Elizabeth after she learned her astonishing news, and Elizabeth discerned that Mary was carrying God’s son. Elizabeth offered her own words of blessing, “Blessed are you among women…Blessed is the fruit of your womb…Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Mary responded with a song of joy, not for her greatness in being selected by God, but for her lowliness and God’s greatness. She imagined what God would do through her and through her son.
God scatters the proud.
God removes the powerful from seats of power.
God lifts the lowly.
God fills the hungry.
God reminds Israel of his mercy and power.
Mary demonstrated that blessing originates in the love of God and in God’s desire to make creation whole. She imagined a God who disrupts power structures, saves the powerful from arrogance and pride, gives hope to the lowly and food to the hungry. She knew that God had not forgotten the people of Israel. Her personal calling and blessing extended to everyone, so that even today we can experience the Savior’s love that makes creation whole.
Mary’s blessing is a word of hope to those of us in the midst of stressful situations. Mary demonstrates that we don’t have to have all the members of our extended family sitting around a Christmas dinner table with exuberant holiday joy, or have had great financial success in 2020, or have lots of presents under the tree, in order to experience Christmas blessing. Like Mary, we are simply invited to allow the Christ child to be born into our lives. Our nation doesn’t have to be in complete harmony in order to stand before God and humbly ask for God’s help and blessing in the new year. We are invited to lean into God’s love, even when our nation feels like it is deeply divided. The pendulum of God swings in the direction of those who are in the valley. God’s deep desire is always to bless us, even when we face the impossible, the difficult, or the excruciating, because God loves us. God wants us and all people to experience divine blessing, wholeness, and peace.
Written by Karen Miller