December 20

Read Luke 1:26-38

Dostoyevsky said that “love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”* This is true of expectant parents who dream of what life will be like with a sweet baby. When the baby arrives, it is a precious newborn but this new life can also be a harsh and dreadful thing. They experience a new kind of worry. They come to know a love that is fiercer than anything they have ever known before – a love that requires them to submit their entire being to this new life as their world is changed completely forever.

Throughout the ages, this scene of the annunciation has been sentimentalized, but Mary didn’t romanticize this baby for long. In the next chapter, she sings of the harsh reality of how the world is going to change as God’s reign of justice and love are birthed in the person of Jesus.  

Today, people are crying out for a new world – one in which love in action becomes a reality as the structures of power and wealth are radically reordered. In the same way that new parents cannot imagine what life will be like after a baby is born, I think that we cannot imagine what this new world order will be like. Those who have had privilege will have to submit themselves to a new way of life as the structures are reordered. We as the church are being called to say as Mary, “let it be with us according to your will” as we work to make the whole hope of Christian love a reality.


Lord, may we give ourselves to love in action. Amen.

Rev. Kathy Carpenter

Presbyterian Campus Minister

UKirk Ministry at Virginia Tech

* Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov Book 2, trans. Constance Garnett (New York: Modern Library, 1996), 60.

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