But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God.” (Luke 1.30)
“No longer on his (or her) Christmas card list” those words have become a way of expressing that we are out of favour with someone or that they are out of favour with us.
Many people feel that way about God – that they are off His Christmas card list. They are out of favour.
Gabriel told Mary twice that she was favoured. Twice. I wonder if she didn’t get it the first time? Who knows. We just know that twice in the space of a couple of verses Gabriel tells Mary that she is favoured.
Notice too, that this is how he addresses Mary’s fear. It’s not a case of “Don’t be afraid – you can do it” or “Don’t be afraid, everything is going to be alright.” No. Don’t be afraid. You’re favoured.
Years of pastoral ministry – and personal experience! – have taught me that people find it very hard to accept that they are favoured by God. They need to hear it not once, or even twice, but over and over again.
Knowing that you are favoured by God is foundational to the Christian life. And even though we have heard it before, we need to hear it over and over again.
So don’t go thinking that something you have done, or something in your background has removed you from God’s Christmas card list. He says you’re on it. You are favoured. Believe it and keep reminding yourself. Again and again and again.
Don’t be afraid. You’re favoured.