December 24, 2017/Luke 1:26-38
It was a miracle.
How else to explain a teen-aged girl, a virgin, giving birth? And not to any ordinary baby – although all babies are extraordinary in their way – but to the Son of God?
Gabriel got the assignment. Of all the angels in heaven, he was the one sent to announce the miracle to that young girl. When he visited Zechariah – the husband of this girl’s cousin – he was met with doubts and questions. Here he was, one who stood in the presence of God, and Zechariah questioned him. “I’m an old man. My wife is an old woman. How in the world are we going to have a baby?” He probably figured things would be even more difficult with Mary. If an old man, a righteous man of God, had questioned his message, how would a teen-aged girl respond?
Six months after that visit to Zechariah, God sent Gabriel to Nazareth. He changed his approach, when he found Mary. Instead of lurking in the dark as he had with Zechariah, he spoke right up: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary said nothing, but her expression must have told Gabriel that she was confused, perplexed. So he continued with his message: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Favor. Grace. You are the object of God’s grace.
Why Mary, we wonder. “What is it about Mary that makes her appropriate as an object of God’s grace?” None of the gospel writers tell us anything about her, other than a vague reference to her age and her engagement to Joseph. “Not a single word describes the virtues or vices of Mary or explains why God might have chosen her. That is, of course, exactly the point: God chooses because God chooses. Mary does not earn or deserve the honor of becoming the mother of Jesus.”
That is the real Christmas miracle. Not that Gabriel visited a young girl in Nazareth, or that angels sang to shepherds sitting in a pasture watching their sheep, or that a brilliant star led astronomers to the manger. No, the real Christmas miracle is that God chooses ordinary people, like Mary, like you and me, to do extraordinary things. “For nothing will be impossible with God,” the angel says. Nothing.
 Walter Brueggemann, et. al., Texts for Preaching, Year B, 39