Wednesday 08 December 2021

Bible Book:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ…just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (vs 3-4)

Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 Wednesday 8 December 2021

Psalm 113


Today parts of the Church will celebrate the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a celebration with which many Methodists and others in Protestant traditions may be unfamiliar, or even uncomfortable. Today’s Bible reading may also be uncomfortable for Methodists, given the suggestion that some are chosen and pre-destined to be children of God, implying God therefore decides not to choose others. So what are we to make of this day and this reading?

There are no biblical passages about the birth of Mary. Christian tradition states her mother was Anna and her father, Joachim. There is a gospel, known to us as the Infancy Gospel of James, which dates from sometime in the second century. It tells the story of Mary’s miraculous conception as her parents were aged and childless. Taking inspiration from Abraham and Sarah they pray to God and an angel visits Anna and she super-naturally conceives Mary. While this book is not part of the canon of Christian Scripture, there are overtones of the Christmas story also included within it, as we will shortly be reading of the miraculous conceptions of both John and Jesus. The accounts in Scripture of miraculous conceptions and births can be great to tell, but do pose problems for anyone who has suffered miscarriage, being unable to conceive, or who has never had the opportunity to try for a child. If we are not careful these accounts and festival celebrations can suggest that God just sweeps in to act for those who would like a baby. The countless millions who haven’t received such a miracle can be left questioning, "Why not us?"

This can also be the problem with particular interpretations of today’s Bible reading, which suggests God chooses some and not others. A narrow reading of this can lead to people feeling excluded not just by the Church, but by God as well. Our Wesleyan heritage would want to assert that, ultimately, God chooses to offer adoption as children of God to all people. Our role is not to be the judges of who is in and out, but rather to model accepting that gracious offer by living lives that are blameless.

To Ponder:

  • How do we respond when prayers seem to go unanswered?
  • How do we handle Bible passages with which we may be uncomfortable?
  • How might we support those who find Christmas a difficult time?


God of all, we thank you that you sent your son, Jesus, to fully take on our human life within a real family. In a time of lights and celebration, bless and comfort those who find this season hard. Amen.

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