Mary, the strong One!

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December 20, 2023
Arriving in the Darkness of the Night!
December 21, 2023
A Blue Christmas
December 20, 2023
Arriving in the Darkness of the Night!
December 21, 2023

Legend has it, that Mary was not the first person to be asked to be the God-bearer, but rather she was the first person to say ‘yes’!  

I’ve wondered about Mary for as long as I have heard this magnificent story about how God’s choice to become human out of love for all humanity, to live our ordinary human life, and to die, became real; and how in doing so God speaks to us directly, personally about our own human experiences, which God already knows; and, this choice by God, means we can trust God’s love for us is real.

To be honest, I’ve never seen Mary as a meek, mild, obedient girl.  She’s never been ‘good’ and compliant.  How could this image of Mary ever be considered rationally?  If this is what she was, she would never have said ‘yes’, to such an outrageous, life-changing, dramatic, transformational, quietly subversive request from God. She would never have been able to live with the consequences of her decision, because this wasn’t simply about having a questionable baby; saying ‘yes’ was going to change her life forever and for her family, for Joseph and his family, and for the world – if she truly heard, listened and believed what the angel, what God was saying and promising.

And I enjoy thinking about Joseph as well, and the dreams he had, his conversations with God, as he grappled personally with the consequences of Mary’s ‘yes’.  He had a lineage that was important. Family mattered.  Being married to someone who was this radical was always going to make life complicated.  I have a lot of time for Joseph, a man who stayed with Mary in spite of her ‘interesting’ condition. He didn’t belittle or abuse her, he married her, supported her and Jesus with all their children, and together they continued to live ordinary lives in community, attending the synagogue, and living under Roman occupation and recognising the threat to their lives coming from Herod.  God’s love for Joseph reveals a good man.

I’ve also learned, young people see things very clearly, uncluttered by the concerns of older adults and other considerations.  Mary’s ‘yes’ also signified something else which is really important.  There was no coercion, manipulation, no abuse of power or control from God, only God’s love for humanity bringing into view God’s plan; and God’s love for Mary and Joseph was always present, as this decision became real and Jesus became human. 

God’s Son is now present on earth as well as in heaven, his kingdom will have no end.  The unending sweep of God’s intentions for humanity across the long ages are being brought together to this moment with the help of a young girl who chooses to work with God’s great question and invitation, and the world is changed forever.

We are reminded, ‘For nothing will be impossible with God’, (Luke 1:37) as we hear about Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, an older woman, long past child bearing age, and her husband Zechariah and for both, they who had previously been childless, now saw Elizabeth six months into her own pregnancy. 

We are brought back in our own lives, into moments when God asks and we can choose to answer or not. The gospel shows us this message has been extended not just to Mary and Elizabeth, but to all of us.  Every single one of us has received an invitation to help give birth to the kingdom of God.  We are all meant to be mothers and midwives of God.  What good is it to me, if this eternal birth of the divine son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within me?  And what good is it to me, if Mary is full of grace, if I am not also full of grace. 

We can choose to say ‘yes’ or not.  Each occasion opens us up to God and God to us, as God waits patiently for us to live into the desired life God has intended for each of us.  Each decision and action has consequences that are both immediate and will change the world over time. 

The truth of the Gospel is we human beings are containers of the holy.  God wants nothing less than for us to be become pregnant with divine possibilities and then give birth to the holy and precious in our time and in our lives.

When God asks, I hope you will answer and live into God. I hope you will see yourselves today, being midwives to new life, new possibilities, being birthed into God’s family and that you will not sit back, meekly, mildly, obediently, but subversively, with Advent joy and hope, peace and love, will make sure everyone within hearing knows what God has done and is about to do again.

The Lord be with you.

Reference:

Jarvis, C.A., Johnson, E.E. [Gen. Eds].  2014.  Feasting on the Gospels.  Luke, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-11.  Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

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