Be still to listen.

Be brave to hear.

Be centered to behold a love too immense for our understanding.

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When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:26-29

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When you are complimented by anyone, especially someone you admire, do you tend to get confused? That was Mary's reaction. Even if we are not often greeted with a compliment, it still feels good to be complimented. Yet here is Mary, a young woman, and God sees a trait in her that is needed to be able to withstand bearing and raising the Emmanuel. It is a trait that is favored in the eyes of God: unconditional love. Mary is not perfect. She is full of love, and she is brave.

You are a favored one in the eyes of God. You do not need an angel to come down from heaven to tell you that. And like Mary, God sees something in you and wants to do something in your life.

Listening to God, finding out what God is saying to you, is difficult. In this Advent week, center yourself to behold a love too immense for our understanding; center yourself to listen to God.

Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas

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God, I pray that I might understand why you have called me favored, why you love me. I pray for a glimpse of reason in your love, although I know that I might not be able to understand. Grant me peace knowing that you love me, without having to know why. Amen.

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What is the love of God calling you to do?

What is the love for God’s creation calling you to do?

What would you do for the love of the body of God?

Go, to love.

Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas

Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas is a senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, majoring in sociology. She is the First Lay Deputy from the Diocese of Arizona to the 79th Episcopal General Convention. This will be her second time as deputy. Her writing has also been featured as a columnist for The Episcopal Journal.

Unto Us: O Holy Night


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