Luke 1:26-38 (New American Bible)
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the [slave] of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
I know this is an ‘Advent’ story, but St. Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus to Mary reminds me of one thing we all seem to need right now: Wild Hope! This story is all about Wild Hope and the power of God to bring such Hope into dark times and dark days.
It is Wild Hope because we are given the momentous news that Messiah is being born anew in the world, into our lives, and into our hearts. And if you really ponder this, it is just insane: Jesus longs to come into our lives and live in and through them! There is no rational explanation why the Son of God would dare enter such a profane vessel as myself, or you, none whatsoever aside from pure Love.
But that is Wild Hope.
This story of the birth of Jesus is also an example of one of the times God shows bold rudeness (forgive my anthropomorphizing of God here) as well because as we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ, we must also remember that God did not actually ask Mary’s permission to enter her! God did not ‘knock at the door’ and ask polite permission if He could come and turn her world upside down…if He could come and alter the human world. Nope. God just did it.
I mean, if an angel of God came to me and said, “Niles, I am going to flip the world on its head through you, so have faith” and then disappeared. Well, you and the head shrinkers would have a field day with me – “he’s paranoid schizophrenic, or bipolar; quick, let’s put him on meds and get him stabilized stat!” Praise God that He did not decide to come to Blessed Mary in 2010, for she would surely be institutionalized, patronized, analyzed, and medicated…thrown away and forgotten about with all the other marginalized, mentally ill people today.
But no, God just sends an angel (that alone would freak me out) says to Mary, “you are Blessed among women and I am going to use you to change the world and I am going to do it by coming into your very being, your Holy Womb, and birthing the miracle of all miracles.” How utterly and unabashedly rude of God.
Seriously…no permission, no invitation sent weeks early via the mail with an RSVP envelope, No Evite, No Facebook updates. No Tweet. Nope. How dare God? Who does He think He is?!? Just a divine message sent by a divine messenger to a teenager whose audacious response was “be it done to me according to Your will.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I know quite a few 14 year olds and they can’t even answers politely when asked to pick up their clothes, much less respond with such faith and grace when they are given such an earth-shaking truth.
Now that is Wild Hope, my friends!
God choosing such a poor Hebrew teenage girl (about as low on the totem pole as you can go back then) to bring about the greatest Hope the world has ever been given. And that Hope is still living and loving today, for this Wild Hope is not just a notion or an idea; nope, that Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus of Nazareth.
What is still mind-boggling, so utterly precocious, about this is the Wild Hope of God is still coming, ‘rudely’ interrupting our lives, giving His love to us and to a well-worn world, teetering on the edges and yet pregnant with desire.
The Wild Hope of God is still coming in bold compassion, coming into hearts and minds, disconcertingly flipping us and our world on its head. God’s Wild Hope is still rudely loving those we do not think are worthy of His love, forgiving those we do not think forgivable, showering grace and mercy to those we would rather punish and ignore.
Yes, Wild Hope is still coming to us, without permission, planting wild dreams and desires in our hearts, asking us to trust the pregnant expectancy of Divine Visitation. God’s Wild Hope is still blowing our minds first and foremost by saying “I am Emmanuel” (meaning ‘God is with us’ or better translated “God is with you!”) and I love you more than Life itself.
Wild Hope is still coming anew; being born anew in the living mangers of our hearts, filling them with Jesus and his lavish grace & crazy love (pouring out faith over fear) beckoning us to come and do something “Wild” for Him.