Archives, Biography, Pondering, Songs of Assent, Wheaton

Favored Ones

“I renounce the lies the enemy tells us about you, dear Father of Jesus.”

The scene? A Saturday afternoon as our class on the Sacred Actions and Ministries of Worship gathered in a little historic chapel at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (IWS) for a service of baptismal renewal.

The teaching on renouncing the schemes of the evil one was behind us, the water in which we would meditate on what it meant and still means to be brought into Christ through baptism lay before us, and in between was the moment to turn away from the centripetal force of the world, the flesh and the devil and affirm once again the foundational realities of our faith.

An earlier class discussion on Satan’s lies yielded this reflection: “What lies does the enemy tell you about God the Father?” “Whatever I do isn’t good enough.” “He tolerates me, but is never pleased.” “He is distant and I can’t find my way to Him.” “He shows his favor to others, but not to me.”

The latter comment was my own. I have recently become painfully aware of my unbelief that God truly favors and delights in his children, and that his heart was, is, and always will be to bless us.

In the last decade I have lost my child-like wonder of God’s favor. It has not been a particularly smooth season, and somewhere along the line, my need to endure, while true, has been overshadowing God’s immense heart of mercy, love and delight. And so, on this Saturday, in addition to the ongoing repentance of my unbelief, I renounced the liar who buzzes around my head with the image of a God who demands but never delights.

I’m back home now and my thoughts return, as they so often do, to Mary, who is told she is highly favored. “Oh, but Carla, that’s Mary. She was unique, and the favor extended to her was truly extravagant. Even the Greek word employed to describe God’s favor to her is only used…..twice.”

Twice. Once in Luke 1:28: “Greetings, oh favored one, the Lord is with you,” and once in Ephesians 1:6: “In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.’

Oh. In the fullness of time Mary was the first to be highly favored. But she is not the last. She once bore the Beloved, that the Beloved might bear us forever.

Greetings, oh favored ones. The Lord is with us.

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