Advent: Of Love and Mary

Christmas is days away, and as you may have noticed because this post is late, I don’t have all my eggs in a row (or maybe it’s supposed to be ducks in row…). So this post is a few days late. Regardless, we have come to the fourth and final week of advent. So far, we’ve looked at the prophets, angels, and the shepherds. This week we’re going to look at Mary.

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Mary has been portrayed a number of ways in books, movies, and plays, but she’s often just, well, she’s just Mary. We often forget that something was special about Mary.

Imagine this:

You are Mary, favored one of God, of the Most High.

You’re young, just a teenage girl, and you find yourself holding a baby in a chilly cave in Bethlehem. He’s beautiful. Perfectly formed fingers and toes. A patch of dark hair on his head. A tiny chest that steadily rises and falls. Bright, clear eyes that peer up at you. He’s breathtaking, this baby boy of yours.

You glance at Joseph to see that he sleeps. You’re glad he can finally rest; these last few months, these last few days, these last few hours have been so much. And the Most High has brought you to this. You look back down at your baby. His eyes are heavy too. You rock back and forth a little, humming softly.

You don’t think you’ll ever forget the day the angel came to you. It’s hard to believe it’s already been nine months. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been nine months. The angel’s words echo through your memory. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” You remember the initial fear. You remember the confusion and awe. The wonderful things he said of the baby you would bear. Great. Holy. His kingdom will never end.

The Most High, the God you worshipped, called you to be His Son’s mother, and while you didn’t understand, you believed.

For the first few days, you could only think of the privilege and honor, and you puzzled over why He’d chosen you of all the Jewish girls. Favored one. But why? You weren’t exceptionally pretty. You didn’t have any special talents. You honored your parents, loved your siblings, and tried to keep the Law of the Most High, but you couldn’t see how those things made you favored.

But then you started wondering about how to tell your parents and Joseph. Joseph. Thoughts of divorce and stoning made it hard to sleep. And even if he didn’t accuse you of adultery, you would be shunned. Always. A baby outside of marriage would always stain you, and gossip would only make things worse.

But looking back over the last nine months, you can see how the Most High moved. When you visited Elizabeth and learned of Zechariah’s encounter with an angel of the Most High. When Joseph upheld your betrothal and told you of the angel sent to him from the Most High. The safe journey to Bethlehem. The stable to stay in. The delivery of a healthy baby boy. The Most High provided.

You wonder what it will be like, raising the Son of the Most High. You’ve worried if you’ll be a good mother, or if maybe you’ll do it all wrong. Shouldn’t the Most High have chosen another girl? Someone wiser? Someone kinder? Someone better? But after the last several months of carrying this baby inside, you find you love Him more than you thought possible, and you’re thankful that the Most High chose you even though you aren’t the wisest and best.

You kiss His forehead and set him in the manger Joseph dragged over. He hardly stirs. You may be young and still a little frightened, but you intend to be the best mother you can because you love Him.

In the remaining days before Christmas (and even the days after it), I encourage you to look at Mary’s response to Gabriel’s words.

We don’t know a lot about Mary, but her willingness to obey and serve God is quite clear. So often, we are willing to serve God in comfortable ways, but if He calls us into something different and, heaven forbid, hard, we backpedal and ask question after question. God called Mary to a thing that drastically changed her life in many difficult ways, but Mary asked only one question. One question. And then she basically said, “I’m God’s servant; let’s do this.”

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like that—a heart that loves and obeys. So, think about Mary’s response and look back over some of your own responses to God. Are you His willing servant? Do you love Him enough to serve Him? Find a way to serve Him that’s outside of your comfort zone.

Some passages to look at are: Luke 1:26-38, Luke 1:39-45, Luke 1:46-56, and John 14:15.

Let’s drop a gift-wrapped bookend on this post.

What do you think? What are some hard things God has called you to? How do you respond to God? What strikes you about Mary? What will you do to serve Him in a way that stretches you?

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