Day 24: Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist

About the Beer:

Our final beer this year comes to us from Epic Brewing Company, located the heart of Mormon country in Salt Lake City, Utah! The founders, David Cole and Peter Erickson, originally from California, started an international aquaculture company in Utah in 1992. In 2008, Utah law changed allowing these two entrepreneurs to pursue their longtime dream of opening a strong beer microbrewery in Utah. Admittedly, beer geeks, foodies and “Epic” adventure junkies, they share a passion for making and drinking fine ales and lagers. The Epic team has a strong belief in doing everything “all out.”


Big Bad Baptist is a whiskey barrel-aged Imperial Stout brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Each release of this beer is made with a different dark roasted coffee to provide a slightly different experience year after year. When poured, there will be a big, fluffy head with a nose of whiskey. The chocolate, coffee, and malty flavors come through as you drink! The website has no story about where the beer gets its name, but I like to think this beer was made for the exact purpose of sipping on a great beer while reflecting or reminiscing; a perfect beer for our purposes. 

For more information on Epic Brewing Company checkout their website: www.epicbrewing.com

Also, please let us know what beers or styles you particular enjoyed this year, and which ones you didn’t, so we know how to better tailor our beers in future years!

Advent Reflection:

Luke 2:1-14

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Tonight’s reflection comes from “Preparing for Christmas” by Fr. Richard Rohr.

“Let me begin with a quote from twentieth-century writer G.K. Chesterton: “When a person has found something which he prefers to life itself, he for the first time has begun to live.”  Jesus in his proclamation of the kingdom told us what we could prefer to life itself—and it would work!.  The Bible ends by telling us we are called to be a people who could say, “Come, Lord Jesus”.  We all have to ask for the grace to prefer something to our small life itself because we have been offered the shared Life, the One Life, the Eternal Life, God’s Life that became visible in this world in Jesus.  We do not get there by being correct.  We get there by being connected.

The kingdom is finally to be identified as the Lord Jesus himself.  When we say, “Come, Lord Jesus” on this Christmas Eve, we are preferring his Lordship to any other loyalty system.  If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not.  If Jesus is Lord, then the economy and stock market are not.  If Jesus is Lord, then my house and possessions, family and job are not.  If Jesus is Lord, then I am not! 

What we are all searching for is someone to surrender to, something we can prefer to life itself.  The promise that came into this world on Christmas, is the gift totally given, free for the taking, once and for all, to everybody and to all of creation who receives.  God in Jesus chose and said “yes” to our humanity.  Jesus came to dwell among us…’full of grace and truth’.  Incarnation is already Redemption!”

Now, as you sip on this imperial stout, enjoy celebrating Christmastide! 

I hope that you have been blessed during these 24 days of waiting, anticipating, and longing. It is ‘Always Advent’, but every day can now be Christmas because the one we thought we were just waiting for has come once and for all.

Day 23: St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

About the Beer:

St. Bernardus Brewery is probably most famous for its flagship beer, St. Bernardus Abt 12. St. Bernardus has a long and very interesting history! Tonight, I decided to just share their entire history.
(1900 – 1930)
In the early 1900s the Trappists fled the Mont des Cats (named after an ancient local tribe) and escaped to Watou. There they took up residence at the ‘Patershof’ farm (also known as ‘Courtewyle’), just a stone’s throw from the current brewery. They re-named their new home the ‘Réfuge de Notre Dame de St Bernard’ – and it was to prove a refuge in practice as well as in name. But why did these monks come to Belgium at all? In France they had to pay tax on their revenues and that was not (yet) the case in Belgium. Safe in their new home the monks took up cheese-making.

(1930 – 1934)
As France took on a more tolerant attitude towards religious communities the monks of Mont Des Cats decided to cross back over the border. Their vacated dairy was taken over by Evariste Deconinck. Later the Réfuge’s site would become the property of the Bruges Public Centre for Social Welfare.

(1934 – 1946)
During this period Deconinck expanded the dairy. Today the Brouwershuis where they made cheese on Trappistenweg (Trappist Road) is a guesthouse. Back in the 1930s it was producing two different branded cheeses: ‘St Bernard Watou’ and ‘Port Salut de Watou’.

(1946 – 1992)
Not long after the Second World War, Evariste Deconinck was invited by the Trappist monks at Westvleteren to brew and market their Trappist beers under licence, originally covering a 30-year period. Brewmaster Mathieu Szafranski (who was of Polish descent) brought his considerable know-how to the new site, bringing both recipes and the famed St Sixtus yeast as a new brewery was established right next to the cheese workshop. The cheese-making business was sold in 1959 with the equipment and the brand name going to the Poperinge milk dairy, St.Bertinus, which would later itself be acquired by the Elvapo group. In 1986 Belgomilk took over the business. In the early 1960s Guy Claus, the husband of Bernadette Deconinck (the daughter of Evariste) joined the brewery, opening up the opportunity for talks with Westvleteren Abbey to renew the licence agreement. In 1962 a new 30-year deal was signed to keep the beer flowing until 1992.

(1992 – 1998)
In 1992 the agreement expired for good, as the Trappist breweries had decided to award the “Authentic Trappist Beer” label exclusively to beers that had been brewed inside an abbey. From then on, the brewery’s beers were marketed under the St.Bernardus brand name. This period was marked by uncertainty as the brewery tried hard to revive its fortunes and inject new life into its brand.   

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is brewed in the style of a Belgian Quad. It is a dark, seasonal beer, brewed with all the flavors of winter. Enjoy its complexity as you drink it tonight and appreciate all the effort that went into making this brewery what it is today!

Advent Reflection:

I know that the past two nights have been videos of songs but I feel that the two songs that were shared really capture the essence of Advent. Last night’s song: “Wait For the LORD, his day is near”, captures the angst and the longing for the coming Messiah. The song tonight, “Hear Now, You House of David”, captures the hope of the prophecy foretold, Emmanuel ‘God with us’, will come and dwell among us and will teach us how to love. Here are the lyrics: (the la la la’s just resonate with my soul).

Hear now you house of David
A promise from your God
I am sending one to dwell among you
Emmanuel, The Lord

He who spoke all of creation
Is from a virgin born
He whom angels worship in glory
A child in Bethlehem.

Praise and thanks to the Father
And to the Holy Ghost
And to him who came among us
To teach us how to love

La la la …

Be blessed!

Day 22: Southern Tier Creme Brulee

About the Beer:

Southern Tier Brewing Company began brewing beer in 2002 in Lakewood, New York. Since their conception they have worked to create new and interesting beers. Their website shares the following motto, ‘For us, good living means exploring – the opposite of “comfortable.” It’s not just about craft, but about questing, questioning, transforming “What If” into “Here’s How,” by way of an experiment so crazy, it just might work.’ 
Creme Brulee is the result of one of those bold experiments! The Blackwater Series was launched in 2004, and is partly responsible for helping start the popularity of dessert beers. The base for all of these beers is a Russian Imperial Stout. What makes this specific iteration is brewed with vanilla beans, giving it notes of vanilla and custard with a smooth, milky finish. Each Southern Tier nitro can uses integrated technology to release the nitrogen when opened. The nitro instantly activates a smooth mouthfeel and thicker, creamier head for a decadent experience. 

Cheers to experimental beers.

Advent Reflection: For the last four Sundays of Advent we have sung this song at my church before the reading of the Gospel. It has been a beautiful practice for my soul as it builds the anticipation and longing for the coming of Jesus. For our reflection tonight, take a few moments to listen to this song. I pray that it cultivates a longing in your heart.

Day 21: L’Chouffe N’ice

About the Beer:

Achouffe Brewery was started in the late 1970s, in the middle of the Vallée des Fées (the Valley of the Fairies), when two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts decided to create their own beer in the garage belonging to Chris’ mother-in-law.The brewery, which was originally started as a hobby, quickly grew as it became an international success. 
N’Ice is the winter seasonal beer from Achouffe Brewery. It is a Belgian Strong Ale that has a dark color. It is slightly hoppy, spiced with thyme and curacao, and made using orange peel. It has an ABV of 10%, checking in as one of our stronger beers thus far. As their website says, this beer unconditionally warms the cockles of your heart. I am not sure what that means, but I hope you heart is warmed as you enjoy this strong Belgian beer!

If you’re anything like me and like to keep bottles/cans/or bottle caps that are cool, then tonight is the bottle that you should keep! How sweet those elves are around the fire!

Advent Reflection: Tonight’s reflection again comes from Paul David Tripp’s devotion called: “Come Let Us Adore Him”.

“The Christmas story confronts our delusions that we can live healthy and wholesome, independent lives. If we were capable of being what we’re supposed to be and doing what we’re designed to do, and if we were able to solve our deepest and most foundational problems, then there would have been no need whatsoever for Jesus to take on human form, to be born as a baby, to live, die, and rise again. The Christmas story confronts us with our dependency. The Christmas story tells us that we need help. The Christmas story tells us that spiritual need and spiritual dependency are universal and inescapable. It makes no sense to celebrate the birth of Jesus when you strive for independence.

The birth of Jesus destroys the logic of human independence. It crushes the belief that our lives belong to us to live as we choose. The Advent narrative doesn’t let you hold onto the belief that you can live as you were created to live without any power or wisdom but your own. The coming of Jesus levels the playing field. It puts all in the same category. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, young or old, where you were born, how much money or education you have, what race you are or what natural gifts you possess: if you are a human being, the Christmas story confronts you with the depth of your need for help. But the Christmas story doesn’t just confront with your need; it also introduces you to the ultimate helper. The Christmas story is about help coming to earth. He lay in that manager, and he will soon hang from a cross, all to provide for us the help we desperately need.”

Day 20: Breckenridge Christmas Ale

About the Beer:

Breckenridge Brewery opened its doors in 1990, making it the third oldest craft brewery in the state of Colorado! Sadly, as of 2016 they sold out and are now apart of a group of breweries called The High End,which is a unit of Anheuser-Busch. As your curators for beer advent, we sincerely apologize for including a beer owned by those beer makers out of St. Louis. 

Back to the beer itself. Breckenridge Christmas Ale is brewed in the style of a Winter Warmer. This varietal boasts flavors of caramel and chocolate derived from its carefully roasted malts. The Chinook and Mt. Hood hops add a level of spiciness to help warm your spirits this Christmas Season. So lets raise our glasses and hope this beer outshines the usual Anheuser-Busch product!

Advent Reflection: Tonight’s reflection comes from a book called “Come Let Us Adore Him” by Paul David Tripp. I found tonight’s reading very challenging and uplifting. During our staff’s morning meeting today we read Matthew 1 and I am always struck by v. 21. The very meaning of the name of Jesus tells us of his purpose. Blessings!

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21

“You and I are very skilled and committed self-swindlers. Now I know that this is not how you expect a Christmas devotional to begin. You would expect talk of angels, shepherds, a star in the sky, magi, and a baby in the manger. But all of these story elements, which are so familiar to us, would not have been necessary without the single, dark reality we all work so hard to deny. From the moment of the very first sin in the garden of Eden, human beings have worked to deny what is true about them, that is, that we all desperately need what only God’s grace can give us. We all swindle ourselves into believing that we are wiser, stronger, and more righteous than we actually are. We all walk around with an inner law firm that mounts a defense whenever we are accused of wrong. And when we do this, we are denying our need for what the baby in the manger came to do for us.

So what we all need to confess is that denying our need for grace is more natural for us than confessing our need for grace. If confession is owning personal responsibility for our words and our actions without excuse or shifting the blame, then it does take rescuing grace for us to come to the place where we admit our need for rescuing grace. Jesus came to provide that rescue. Here are four ways that we all tend to swindle ourselves into believing that we don’t need the rescue that Jesus was born to provide.

  1. We all tend to minimize our sin.
  2. We all tend to doubt the wisdom of God’s law.
  3. We all tend to be more concerned about the wrongs of others than our own sins.
  4. We all tend to deny what’s in our hearts.

So as we near the final days of Advent and look to the celebration of the incarnation at Christmas, how about beginning with confession. I am convinced that when it comes to the redeeming work of Jesus, exuberant rejoicing begins with brokenhearted weeping. Only when sin breaks our hearts will the coming of the Messiah excite our hearts.”

Day 19: Third Space Happy Place

About the Beer:
Third Space Brewery is one of the newer breweries making a name for itself in Milwaukee, WI. It was started with the concept that everyone needs a “third space” besides their home and work. Located in the Menomonee River Valley between the Historic Third Ward and Miller Park, Third Space is proud to be part of the economic rejuvenation of the area in recent years. Happy Place, the brewery’s flagship beer, is considered a Midwest Pale Ale. It has a bright hop aroma with flavors of citrus, stone fruit, berries, and passion fruit. A meticulously selected blend of malts allows the hop flavors to shine in this smooth drinking ale designed to take you to your own happy place!

Advent Reflection: Adapted from “The Advent Project“.

Matthew 2: 1-3, 7-11
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. . .Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”  After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

In the Scripture reading for today, we read of a journey–the journey of the wise men from the East who came to worship the young king of the Jews. There are many interesting elements in this short narrative, not least is the question of the specific identity of the Magi, nor an explanation for the star that helped them identify the Messiah’s birth. Matthew does not tell us much about either, but what he does highlight is the eagerness of the Magi to worship Jesus. This is contrasted with the hostility of Herod and all Jerusalem (2:3) at the scene of Christ’s birth. These Magi evidently had some exposure to Old Testament prophecies from Jewish colonies in the East. Although many Jews returned to Palestine after the Babylonian deportation, several Jews remained in the East. If the Magi came from Babylon, it would have been a journey of roughly 900 miles, which means they were likely traveling for several months (cf. Ezra 7:9).

The purpose of the Magi’s journey is fulfilled when they “bowed down and worshiped him” (2:11 NIV). Such a long journey from such unlikely Gentile visitors from the East is really an extraordinary way to announce the arrival of the Messiah and Savior of the world. I wonder what their journey was like? What anticipation filled their hearts? What was their experience of worship truly like?

Day 18: Ale Asylum B2D2

About the Beer:
Ale Asylum Brewery is yet another brewery located in Madison, WI. Ale Asylum was opened in 2006 by a marketing director and a brewmaster (talk about a match made in heaven). They have always been focused on using their resources as efficiently as possible, from using custom made wort chillers in the brewing process to giving farmers their spent grains to use as feed, and it remains a priority for the brewery to this day. B2D2 is a hazy New England IPA made as an homage to the button mashing video games of our youth. It has a bright mosaic hop punch with a soft mouth feel. As you enjoy it, reminisce about your favorite video game from the original Nintendo Entertainment System (mine would either be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Duck Hunt).

Advent Reflection: I had my ‘holiday’ party at work tonight and time got away from me so I didn’t get around to sharing a devotion for tonight. Here is a song that I have greatly appreciated over the years. It’s not that often that you hear a song quoting a genealogy from the Bible. Andrew Peterson does it extremely well I’d say. The song is called “Matthew’s Begats” and is taken from Matthew 1. If you are interested in a wonderful Christmas album that is faithful to the Scriptures, make sure that you check out Andrew Peterson’s album: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’.

Day 17: Next Door Darth Porter

About the Beer: Next Door Brewery is located in Madison, WI on Atwood Ave. For those of you familiar with Madison you’ll recognize that street name as the hub to one of the most popular areas of the city. Next Door opened in 2013, but has quickly expanded as demand for their beer has grown. In addition to being a brewery, they have a restaurant imbedded in their facility, and pride themselves on serving great food as well. Stop in to their taproom and try their famous fermented flights, featuring a sample of all 12 beers they have on tap! Darth Porter is one of several Star Wars themed beers on Next Door’s beer list. This robust porter is brewed with two types of chocolate malts to give rise to a roast malt flavor reminiscent of dark(side) chocolate. It’s a medium bodied beer that drinks smooth and finishes with caramel and coffee aromas.

Advent Reflection: I grew up attending church just about every Sunday that I could remember. Even when we went on vacation, we would still find a church to go to. One of the things that I greatly appreciate about my Dad (who is a pastor and probably the most influential person that I look up to, albeit our differences and dysfunction) is that he spoke very openly about the ‘darkness’ that surrounded the birth of Jesus. I remember vividly one of his sermons/teachings about the genocide of King Herod and how the time that Christ was born, was a time of deep, deep pain and suffering and death. It was darkness for sure. If you don’t know the story of the deep pain, suffering, and death that revolved around the birth of Jesus…read Matthew 2:1-23. I bring that up probably because I am sitting in my own darkness and working through stuff, but also because I really do appreciate my Dad teaching me that Christmas is not just a story of goodness, joy, and yuletide gay. Tonight, take a listen to this song and realize that when Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, it was most definitely NOT a silent night…but rather, a night of pain, grief, but also…joy! Which truly does highlight the fact that our faith is indeed… a paradox.

Day 16: Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge

About the Beer: Tyranena Brewery is located between Milwaukee and Madison, in the small town of Lake Mills. Tonight we are drinking Rocky’s Revenge, a brown ale aged in oak barrels that give each batch its own unique flavor. It is named after an ancient creature, that as legend has it, prowls the depths of Rock Lake (originally called Tyranena by the original inhabitants) and protects the sacred stone mounds at its bottom. The brewers have made this beer as an offering to the protector of Tyranena.

Advent Reflection: Tonight’s reading is a well-known passage from the Gospel of Luke focusing on Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel. After you read, gaze at the picture and read the beautiful poem that is a reflection on the Luke passage.

Luke 1:26-38
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Annunciation
by Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
            Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.
       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
       God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

                        ____________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.
More often
those moments
            when roads of light and storm
            open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                    God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

                        ____________________

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
  only asked
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
                                    Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,
                                    Spirit,
                                          suspended
                                                               waiting.

                        ____________________

She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                                            raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                                    consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                                    and the iridescent wings.
Consent,
              courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly. 

Day 15: Dogfish Head Midas Touch

About the Beer: Dogfish Head Brewery is located in Milton, Delaware. Dogfish Head is known for making inventive beers, and releasing those beers in a themed series! Midas Touch is the first beer in their Ancient Ales series. This sweet yet dry beer is made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between beer, wine, and mead, Midas will please the Chardonnay and beer drinker alike! For more information on Dogfish Head brewery check out there website: dogfish.com.

Each Beer Advent I make sure to include a beer from Dogfish Head. Dogfish is my favorite brewery…hands down. Part of it is nostalgia, as I have great memories drinking their inventive (weird) beers, part of it is that I really like their beer, and the other part is that I greatly appreciate their motto: “Off-centered beer for off-centered people”. Regardless, enjoy tonight’s Ancient Ale and remember that beer is an ancient drink!

Advent Reflection: Growing up as an evangelical I have never had much of a study or focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She certainly plays a huge role in our Christian faith and is key to the Nativity Story. I greatly appreciate this reflection from Fr. Richard Rohr in “Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent”.

We tend to manage life more than just live it. We are all overstimulated and drowning in options. We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That is what built our culture. It is not all bad, but if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it is pure heresy. It is wrong. It doesn’t work. It is not gospel. We might be economically rich but not rich spiritually. If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She is probably the perfect image of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world.

We can’t manage, maneuver or manipulate spiritual energy. It is a matter of letting go and receiving what is being given freely. It is the gradual emptying of our attachment to our small self so that there is room for a new conception and a new birth. There must be some displacement before there can be any new “replacement”. Mary is the archetype of such self-displacement and surrender. If Jesus is the symbol of the gift itself and how God gives the gift, then Mary is the symbol of how the gift is received and treasured. Whatever God gives is always experienced as totally unearned grace and never as a salary, a reward, or a merit badge of any sort. In fact, if you do experience it that way, it is not from God and will not expand your heart, mind, or soul.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state. If we ourselves try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ but only ourselves. Mary does not manage, fix, control or ‘perform’ in any way. She just says, “yes!”