With Christmas approaching, the Methodist church turns to thoughts of Advent. For Methodists, the fourth Sunday before Christmas begins the church year. Advent is generally presented as a time of waiting and anticipation, symbolically representing the approach of the birth of Jesus. A former pastor offered a different interpretation – that of a period of darkness before the coming of the light. The Advent story obviously includes Mary, with what I suppose is the traditional teaching of a young woman with the dreams that a young Jewish girl would have had in ancient Israel, and having all of that changed through an angelic visitation. That was the gist of our lesson today, but as I sat listening, I started to wonder what sort of hopes and dreams a young Jewish girl would have had then. There would have been the corporate dream of the Jewish people, awaiting the long-promised Messiah, of course. But on a personal level, what would a young woman in Israel have to look forward to? Mary certainly didn’t come from a wealthy family, so she would anticipate marriage to someone who also wouldn’t be wealthy. Her life would probably center around raising and feeding her family. I don’t mean to trivialize marriage and family, but the thought came to me today that maybe she didn’t trade one dream for another. Maybe that sort of life wasn’t something you dreamed about, it was just what you assumed would happen. Maybe her anointing by God gave her a dream for the first time.