One of my favorite sounds in the world is the deep laughter of children. A few nights ago, while reading a bedtime story, my two-year-old was clutching her stuffed narwhal, and the tusk somehow managed poke into my nose. My surprise reaction made her laugh so hard that we both laughed for the next 10 minutes. It was silly, but joyful, that unexpected incident with the narwhal.

Other experiences of the unexpected have been less joyful. A diagnoses of cancer for a healthy young sister, or the loss of a job and calling. I live a life of routine and that steadiness has its own beauty and rhythm, but I have also realized how quickly life can change. The unexpected can be joyful, in deep belly laughs or in a kind note or chance encounter. The unexpected can also be painful and difficult.

This year I have been again struck by Mary’s response to the unexpected announcement of the angel. I love Mary’s joyful response to the incarnation.

Luke 1:38; 46-55
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

God saved the world through a fragile baby, born to an unremarkable couple at an inconvenient time. Christ’s ministry was full of the unexpected, as he dined with poor, oppressed, and rejected. Christ came to serve, not be served, reigned as king, but not in an expected way.

I am grateful to serve a God of the unexpected. May I be able to rejoice like Mary.

Rebecca Koerselman

Rebecca Koerselman teaches history at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA.

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