This week, as we move a step closer towards Christmas, we hear the story of Mary receiving some most unexpected news. She is to have a son who will be named Jesus, who will rule on the throne of David and be called the Son of the Most High God. Mary asks how this will be since she isn’t even married. The somewhat mysterious response is that the power of God’s Spirit will come upon her.

We are probably too familiar with this story that we miss how scandalous it is at so many levels. Mary is young and as yet unmarried, so to become pregnant is a social scandal that will lead to innuendo, disgrace and possibly worse. What will she say to her parents and to her fiancé Joseph? Mary is also a nobody in the wider scheme of things. She comes from an ordinary family and from a very ordinary small village. She has no status, no connections.

But therein lies the beauty and mystery of this story – that God chooses to work through ordinary people like Mary living ordinary lives. God may well have seen qualities in Mary to suit her for this rather extraordinary role – a deep faith perhaps, courage and a sense of calm. Perhaps God sees these or other qualities in our lives. The most important characteristic though is that Mary says ‘yes’ to God’s invitation. She doesn’t know where this will lead or about the joys and challenges and griefs it will bring her but she says yes anyway. May we be inspired by Mary’s adventure beyond the ordinary.