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God chooses the unlikely yet obedient to be his image bearers.

As I spent time reflecting on Mary in the Gospel of Luke this advent, I was continually brought to tears in a way that I’ve never experienced. Her story is beautiful and bold. It reminds us of the uncomfortable reality that witness is embodied and done in community.

It is sacred, messy, painful, and confusing. Yet it is God’s way of birthing gospel dreams in and through each of us.

Ben Witherington III writes in Women and the Genesis of Christianity that:

…it is Elizabeth and Mary, not Zechariah and Joseph who are first to receive the message of Christ’s coming, who are praised and blessed by God’s angels, and who are first to sing and prophesy about the Christ child…perhaps they are also the first examples of the lowly being exalted as part of God’s plan of eschatological reversal that breaks into history with, in, and through the person of Jesus.

When Gabriel appears to Mary, he doesn’t begin by telling her what will happen. He tells her why. Why? You are highly favored. Mary is troubled by his words and asks, “What kind of a greeting is this?”

He tells her again, “Don’t be afraid, you have found favor with God.”

The angel speaks these words to Mary because she is seen as anything but favored in her culture. Mary is a peasant, an unmarried girl from an insignificant village. In Jewish culture, a woman pregnant outside of marriage faced the threat of being put to death at worst and being dishonored and disgraced at best.

Women today are fighting through the barriers to share Jesus as they ask the same question Mary asked—“Why? Why am I, or would I be highly favored by God? Why would God choose to use me in his plans as a single woman who …

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