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Daily Encouragement - December 21

"My soul magnifies the Lord," rejoices little Mary, "and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant" (Luke 1:46-48).

It is truly surprising and newsworthy that God chose a poor Galilean girl to become the mother of Jesus the Christ and the most significant woman in all of Holy Scripture.

"Mother of God," "Heavenly nurse," "Help of the helpless," and "Dispensatrix of all grace" are just some of the names given to her. She became an unbreakable link between Jewish and Christian history, and also a bridge to Islam -- in the Koran only one of the 114 chapters is given the name of a woman, and it is "Mary." Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan sees her as the inspiration for the great abbesses of medieval times -- the most powerful women in an age of powerful men -- and today as the driving force behind people engaged in struggles for social justice around the world.

Her selection by God should give hope to any of us who are feeling trapped in small roles or small jobs or small towns. The great truth of Mary's story is that God uses the small to lead the big, the weak to teach the strong, and the ordinary to carry out the extraordinary. All we need to do is to remember that it is availability and not ability that is key, and to say, along with Mary, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word" (Luke1:38).

God kept his promises to Israel, from the time of Abraham to the time of Mary, and he keeps his promises today. The greatest sign of his promise-keeping is the birth of his son Jesus Christ: "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse," said God through the prophet Isaiah, "and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” He'll grow up to judge the poor with righteousness. His kingdom will be a peaceful one, marked by righteousness and faithfulness and the knowledge of the Lord. James reminds us to be patient during the time we are waiting for those days. He gives us some very good advice for the meantime: do not grumble against one another. That seems to be a good suggestion during the hustle and bustle of the season, and all the rest that’s going on at the moment.

We’ve heard a lot about virus this year, and I want to share part of a message I delivered at Bridgeton last December about a different kind of virus.

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner HOPE, PEACE, JOY AND LOVE. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus, and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. What are some signs of this one?

• A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

• An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

• A loss of interest in judging other people.

• A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

• A loss of interest in conflict.

• A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)

• Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

• Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

• Frequent attacks of smiling.

• An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it ourselves.

Want to catch the Advent Virus? Expose yourself to people who have it! Search out the opportunities to revisit the meaning of Christmas, to mingle with those for whom the Messiah is a meaningful presence in their lives. Seek out the community of the infected and inflamed and the fervent and feverish. You'll catch the Advent Virus every time!

As an Advent Virus carrier, you will now want to spread the "infection" to others. Rather than waiting patiently for your chance to get the new vaccine to prevent the virus, you just might insist on spreading the Advent viral infection of joy, thoughtfulness, reflection and renewal. This just might make a terrific difference in this year’s Christmas season. Maybe we can all share this virus and feel lots better.

Just about 5 weeks after this message, we began to hear about something that became known as COVID-19. Even though the past months have been terrible, God continues to be with us. The chance to experience Advent differently can be a source of encouragement for all of us; even in the midst of current tribulations. God is faithful and just.

My Soul Gives Glory to My God

Praise God, whose loving covenant supports those in distress,

remembering past promises with present faithfulness.

Thank you God for always being with us. Help us to always be available to hear and respond to your call on our lives. In the name of Jesus our Lord we pray. Amen.

Pastor David Brosnan

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