In the readings for the first three Sundays of Advent, two characters have loomed large, foretelling and heralding the coming of the Saviour: the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist. On this final Sunday of Advent, they fade into the background and a new character takes centre stage: the virgin who is about to bring our Saviour into the world. In this familiar, dramatic scene, she is first of all deeply disturbed by the angel’s greeting, asking herself what it could possibly mean: who is she to be called ‘highly favoured’? When the angel calms her fear and explains the awesome role she is to play, her first reaction is to ask how the impossible can happen. The angel’s reply is that ‘impossible’ is not in God’s vocabulary, and to prove it, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, long past the age of childbearing, is about to become a mother too. Convinced at last, Mary lets her own will be brought into line with God’s plan: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me.’ Later, when she goes to see Elizabeth, and her cousin’s unborn child recognises her as the mother of the Saviour, she will expand on that simple response, proclaiming the greatness of God who has looked on his lowly servant, who has done great things for her, who will scatter the proud-hearted and fill the hungry with good things. As we prepare once again to welcome Christ into our hearts and into our world, let’s remember that every new born child is a miracle of God’s love and that each of us, however much we may tarnish or obscure the divine image in us, is still a beloved child of God. Let’s pray that every child, and every adult, will know that they are precious and cherished. And let’s ask for the courage and the generosity to say, every day, that we are willing to let God do the impossible to us and through us.