Are all things possible? Thoughts on Lectionary Advent 4B

This morning I listened to the Sermon Brainwave podcast, where one of the presenters (Prof. Karoline Lewis) talked about Gabriel’s message to Mary ‘With God all things are possible.’ She wondered out loud at what point do we learn that all things are NOT possible.

In context, Lewis mentioned her little boy who wants a puppy for Christmas, but isn’t getting one. The mall Santa was coached to explain that he wasn’t getting one. For the little boy, all things were possible and he was shocked that he wasn’t getting what he wanted!

I think Prof. Lewis has a point, and I am wondering how this message will fit in with the Advent message that wants to proclaim with Gabriel, ‘With God all things are possible!’ The latter is an encouraging message, while the former keeps that bit of realism that keeps the optimism in check (with my pessimistic nature, I am always looking for the checks and balances!).

Is this a message paraphrasing Paul, ‘All things are possible, but not all things are probable’? Certainly, we do not look for virgins to bear children any more (OK, I realise we may not all be in agreement that God ever did it, but I believe he did once – I think this would still apply to either viewpoint). When does our faith in the God who for whom all things are possible become more of a wishing well hope that we will get what we want (whether puppies or churches that can go on as they always have forever)?

And is it possible, so to speak, to introduce that message four days before Christmas when it may seem that in a fear-stricken year (with the wars, economy, etc.) that I am not sounding as hopeful as the season of Advent calls for?

I have a specific reason for wondering this but that story will have to wait for now.

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2 thoughts on “Are all things possible? Thoughts on Lectionary Advent 4B

  1. For me in a theological context, this means ‘The Kingdom of God is Possible even though it doesn’t look like it from the point of view of human history or current events.’

    It doesn’t mean ‘You’ll get everything you want’.

    [Could that be a sermon? ;-)]

    The Coming of the Kingdom of God is one of my hermeneutical lenses and I think it certainly applies in Advent and Christmas.

  2. That’s a great hermeneutical lens! Thanks for your thoughts.

    In line with what you say, I was reading Joel Green’s Luke commentary and he translates the phrase, ‘No word from God will be impossible.’ I haven’t got around to reading why, though…

    That also helps to take the edge of ‘pessimism’ off the sermon.

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