I really love Advent Four. This is the Sunday when we get that beautiful story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the 12th Century theologian and church leader, said there were three miracles present in this story: 1) that God would condescend to become human, 2) that a virgin would conceive and bear a child, and 3) that this little girl, Mary, would actually be willing to be the mother of the Savior. Martin Luther believed that the third miracle was the greatest of them all. After all, God can do whatever God wants to do. It’s only when we want God to do God’s thing, when we say “yes” to God, that things really happen.
This was a pretty big “yes” for a young girl like Mary—to be willing to be the bearer of God’s redemption for the world. In Mary’s day her pregnancy out of wedlock would certainly mean scandal and social exclusion (possibly even stoning!)—to say nothing of the pain and medical dangers of childbirth itself. Luther gained a real appreciation of what she’d agreed to thanks to the influence of the saint we commemorate on December 20th in our liturgical calendar, Katherina Von Bora, a.k.a. Mrs. Martin Luther.
Peace be with you.