The Fourth Week of Advent: We Think of Mary While We Wait

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)

I have often wondered what Mary was like. Scripture seems to indicate that she was quite young, a young woman or perhaps not yet out of what we would call adolescence. But I think she would be what we now call a young persona with an old soul. Or maybe it is the way the writer of Luke portrays her as.

 

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:28-29)

Why, she might have wondered, am I favored. And who am I that the Lord is with me? Do I want to be favored by the Lord, because I have heard the Lord’s favor is not always an easy thing. And if the Lord is with one, that might mean that great and weighty things are asked of a person of God. She might have thought and remembered all of the people in the history of the Hebrews/Israelites whom the Lord was with and favored.

 

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

It is very likely with these words from the angel that Mary was afraid. And perhaps what was to come was punishment. But the angel assures it is not punishment but favor and blessing. But Mary, being pragmatic in her nature as well as mature in her understanding wants to make sure she is understanding this, and that the angel has the correct person.

 

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:34-36)

Mary might have thought, it is what it is. And I will accept what God gives. And I will count it as a blessing, as I am sure Elizabeth does. A baby? A son! But a son who is the Son of God?!

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:37-38)

 

Would the virgin Mary have had such “chutzpah”? “Chutzpah, a find Yiddish word that means daring and audacity. But you would have to have such a personality to follow your husband across many miles when you were very pregnant. Or to face public scorn and judgment over a situation you had no control over. What ever Mary was, and however she is portrayed by gospel writers, theologians, and commentators such as myself, she has a pivotal role in the story of baby Jesus.

Imagine, beloved reader, all things she must having been thinking in the months leading up to Jesus’ birth. She is a very good model for patience and faithful endurance not only for the Advent season but for all times of the year. May you say with Mary, “Here I am Lord, your faithful servant. May all things in my life be according to your Word.” Selah!

 

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REWARD OF THE PIOUS . . . They are not forgotten

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Reference: Isaiah 49:14-16 )

[Look out, beloved. I am “preaching” today!]

This is a hard truth, beloved, whatever century and era you live in – children of God suffer in this world. It was true in the time of the historic Anabaptists, and it is true now. But what one has to remember, beloved, and cling to with all one’s might when suffering comes to you – all of humanity and all of creation are children of God. So if you say that those who you would number amongst the “faithful” (meaning those of your own faith group, cultural group ethnic group etc) suffer, remember that others who YOU would not number amongst God’s faithful suffer also. We all suffer. We all are Zion who says “the Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” The Lord says to all of us . . . the historic Anabaptist, the magistracy of the 1500’s, the faithful of North America, the faithful of Europe, the faithful of Asia, the faithful of Africa, the faithful of South America, and every one who all the “faithful” would not consider “faithful” . . . all of us! The Lord has said “I have not forgotten any of you. Throughout history and time. Not one in any nation of the world now, nor in the past. I have not forgotten any of you. Each of you are precious and engraved on the palms of my Hands. You are ever before me!” Each of us, beloved, is a child at the Lord’s breast and has been borne of God’s image. Selah! What we may have forgotten – that we are all children of God – the Lord has not! Amen!