In the Mood for Miracles

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:38

Like many other popular passages, the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy, especially here in the Christmas season, isn’t as striking as it would have been to a young woman centuries ago. The appearance of the angel, the news that she would be the virgin mother to the Savior, and even the much overlooked component of her older cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, are seen as commonplace. It’s the story we’ve all heard, and so along the way it’s become something we’ve grown accustomed to, losing something of its surprising nature.

But isn’t it exactly what we need this time of year?

We want to believe in the spectacular. We want to believe there is more to life than what we’ve grown accustomed to, all that we’ve come to know. If only there were some way things could be different. If only there were still room for miracles to occur. And so, we long for the miraculous, something to shake us from routine, and it’s safe to say Mary’s own expectations of life were completely up-ended by her divine visitor.

How many of us, though, operate on a similar wavelength, given to the notion that our unassuming lives have little to no bearing on the state of the world, that the extraordinary encounters and endeavors of those who we read about in scripture seem little more than stories far removed from the reality of daily living? So, we go about our routine living until something happens, some tragedy, an awful situation that disrupts and dismantles our patterns, or on the opposite end, where something so fantastic and celebratory occurs that we’d do whatever we can to hold it just for a while longer?

And here we find ourselves, struck once again by the story of an unassuming girl in a remote village who has a divine encounter with a heavenly being and discovering she has been selected, of all the people in the world, to not only harbor this new life, but nurse him, raise him, care for him. We lose something of the uncanny nature of the story from  repeated tellings, finding it to be just another story amid a season of tradition we adhere to because it’s simply what we do this time of year.

But I think there’s more to it than that.

There’s more to this story than just tradition and routine. We return to this story because the fantastic nature of the event stirs something within us, reignites a longing we experience, but likely push aside because there are things to do. We read this story year after year after year because it awakens us to the idea that extraordinary things still happen. We read this story because it invites us to an understanding that divine encounters exist within the arena of possibility. We read it because it invites us to  abandon the realm of predictability and embrace the unexpected.

It puts us in the mood for miracles.

Trent Sessoms

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