Fearful and Favored: An Advent Poem

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Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! (Luke 1:28).

A teenager engaged to a carpenter had her world turned upside down by this strange greeting, and the even stranger invitation that followed:

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:30–33)

Mary consented, and her world would never be the same.

She was favored, indeed. Favored to carry the Christ, to bring into the world the Light of the world. It’s right that we should honor her, but we also would do well to humanize her.

It’s right that we should honor Mary, but we also would do well to humanize her.

Being the favored one wasn’t only an invitation to honor the Savior, but to suffer for his sake. Mary was given a task and a promise, one that would mean a lifetime of wrestling for faith in what was coming, but currently unseen.

Every Advent, I write a poem to keep my heart from sentimentalizing the Christmas season. This year, my heart has been stuck on the greeting “O favored one,” a simple phrase that explains what must have been a profoundly complex journey for the mother of our Lord.

Full of Favor, Fraught with Fear

He sought her permission,
She replied in submission;
Scared yet sacred mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

When she should be resting,
Herod her strength was testing;
Enduring, expectant mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

She held him to her shoulder
As the desert wind grew colder;
Exhausted, exhilarated mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

He whimpered in the night,
As they fled another plight;
Fleeing, fearful mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

Simeon held him in devotion,
Uttering words of mixed emotion;
Devoted, doting mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

Certain she’d lost the Savior,
Her son of strange behavior;
Frantic, searching mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

She watched him leave home,
His time had come to roam;
Saddened, sending mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

As they bragged about the healing,
She saw a coming cup of reeling;
Protective, pensive mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

Her son was lifted on a cross,
Words cannot capture her loss;
Speechless, suffering mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

Joy deeper than sorrow’s woes,
Pulsed in her when he arose;
Dancing, delighted mother:
Full of favor, fraught with fear.

He is full of favor;
We’ve no need to fear.

I’m so thankful for Mary’s example of living as a favored one. As a human, she sought to obey and trust God; in so doing, she brought the ultimate Favored One into the world, the only perfectly obedient One in whom both she and we trust.

I’m so thankful for Mary’s example of living as a favored one.

As we continue in this Advent season, remember that as adopted children of God, we’ve been granted a position of incredible favor. Yet as we learn from Mary’s own life, being favored doesn’t exempt us from confusion, pain, suffering, and grief. Rather, being the favored of God—through being united with his “favorite” Son, Jesus—invites us into a lifetime of walking by faith and not by sight.

May we live as the favored ones this Advent season by his Spirit.

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