Today’s devotional comes from Mark D. Roberts: https://depree.org/god-of-the-impossible/
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:34-37 (NRSV)
I keep seeing the word “impossible” these days in places I’d not expect. Mainly, I’m seeing it on promotional posters and menus. Restaurants are featuring impossible meatballs, impossible sausage, impossible nuggets, and, most of all, impossible burgers. What makes all these delicious meats impossible? The fact that they’re made completely from plants, without any meat at all. So, if you go to Burger King and order an “Impossible Whopper,” you’ll get a tasty burger featuring a flame-grilled patty made entirely from plants.
The title of today’s devotion, “God of the Impossible,” is not meant to suggest that God is responsible for things like the Impossible Whopper. I have no doubt that God could create such a concoction if he wanted to, but God’s ability to do the impossible goes far beyond turning plants into burgers. Among other impossible things God does, he is able to make those who could never bear children get pregnant and give birth.
As you may recall, last week we began reflecting on the conversation between Mary and the angel Gabriel in Luke 1. After offering a perplexing greeting – “The Lord is with you” – Gabriel went on to reveal that Mary would soon be pregnant with the Son of God (Luke 1:28-33). In response to this unexpected news, Mary said, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (1:34). She knew how babies are made and she also knew that she had not done what is required for baby-making. She was waiting for sexual intimacy until she and her fiancé, Joseph, were fully married.
In response to Mary’s sensible question, the angel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon Mary and make her pregnant by miraculous means (Luke 1:35). Just in case Mary needed evidence for the possibility of this impossible action, Gabriel added that Mary’s relative Elizabeth had recently conceived and was soon to give birth, even though she was far beyond the natural childbearing age (1:36). Summing up, the angel added, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (1:37).
Isn’t that wonderful! God can do the impossible. Mary’s baby, Jesus, will one day say something quite similar to his disciples: “For mortals, [being saved] is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Or, to use the words of Paul in Ephesians, God “by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Thus, Paul can say to the Philippians, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
I wonder how you and I might live if we really believed that God is able to do the impossible and to do it in and through us. What would we dare to do? What dreams would we seek to accomplish? All too often we live as if our options are limited and God is either absent or lacking in power. Gabriel’s message to Mary challenges us to live courageously as we trust God to provide. Advent is a time to be open to the impossible God wants to do in our lives.
Yet, at the same time, we see in Mary’s story a reminder that God doesn’t do it all for us. God did not drop a newborn infant into Mary’s waiting arms. She had to do all the work of being pregnant and giving birth, not to mention nursing a newborn, rocking him to sleep, and so forth and so on. Time and again throughout the Scriptures, God did amazing, miraculous things, like parting the waters of the Red Sea. But people still had to do their part, like trusting God enough to go out into the middle of the sea while they hurried to escape from the Egyptian army.
Thus, while we rejoice and marvel over God’s ability to do the impossible, we also accept the fact that God will use both our faith and our work in order to accomplish his plans. We don’t get to sit back and watch the impossible show. Rather, we’re key performers in it as God does the impossible in and through us.
Christmas Cookie Exchange
Join us after service in Fellowship Hall for our Christmas Cookie Exchange! There will be servers who can create a plate of home-baked cookies made by some of our members that you can take home to enjoy. If you would like to make cookies for this event please email Grace (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth (email@example.com).
In addition, all extra cookies will be used to create trays to be sent to our Police and Fire Departments and the Flemington Area Food Pantry.
Christmas Eve Service
This year’s Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be at 7:30 pm. We’re looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior with you! If you are interested in helping in the service in any way, please send an email to Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with Pastor Chris.
Pastor Chris’ Vacation
Pastor Chris will be on vacation from Monday, December 27th, to January 3rd. Our very own Jeannette Bassinger-Ishii will be preaching on Sunday, January 2nd.
Sermon Series: That’s NOT in the Bible:
Join us in 2022 as we explore how phrases like, “God only helps those who help themselves” or “God never gives us more than we can handle” aren’t in the bible and how they’re a harmful distortion of scripture’s true message. The series will start on January 9th and go through January 30th.
New Worship Leaders for 2022
Our church is looking for new worship leaders who can be part of our 2022 rotation. If you are interested in helping lead worship (by sharing announcements, greeting the congregation, and reading scripture), please email our office at email@example.com or connect with our Lay Leader Bruce LaPenta or Pastor Chris.
Sharing Prayer Requests
If you have a prayer request, you can fill out a prayer card in the back of the sanctuary or email our Office Manager, Gretchen, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be sure to add it to the list on the back of our bulletin. You can also email Gretchen to take off any prayer requests that are no longer relevant or needed.
Calendars and Upper Room
New 2022 Calendars have arrived, graciously donated by Holcombe-Fisher. Also, the new Upper Room for January/February is also in. Please check the back table for these items. Extras will also be in the Church office.
Leadership Council Meetings
Our next Leadership Council meeting will be Tuesday, January 11th, at 6:30 pm in the conference room in A-Wing. Also, the minutes from November’s meeting have been formally approved. You may email Gretchen for a copy at email@example.com.