The Virgin Mother

My father grew up Catholic.  I always remember his mother, my grandmother, relaying to me that she had a special relationship with Mary.  When she died, she was holding her rosary, which was later given to me.  While I am not Catholic, and am in fact a Presbyterian minister, I too have felt a closeness with Mary - an awe, really.  Amidst so many church fathers, she serves as a female biblical example of ultimate faithfulness.  The fact that she did so through mothering is that much more inspiring.

As we approach Christmas, I want to draw our attention to Mary, who is a largely unsung hero in the Protestant tradition.  What can we all learn from her as Christians?  The story of Mary's faithfulness begins in Luke 1:26-38.  An angel visits Mary and tells her that she will bear the "Son of the Most High" even though she is a virgin.  She agrees by telling the angel, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." 

It's interesting to explore what Mary's thought process might have been at the time of angelic announcement.  At first she is incredulous:  How can she become pregnant as a virgin?  But it's possible she was fearful too.  She had a lot at stake by saying yes to God in light of the patriarchal society of her day.  She was risking being shunned as an unwed mother, and her access to basic provisions like protection would have been in jeopardy. 

I came across a poem entitled Mary, Pondering that attempts to delve into her thought process furtherI invite you to read it as we glimpse into her faithfulness:

What is this seed which God has planted,
Unasked, uncompromised, unseen?
Unknown to everyone but angels
This gift has been.
And who am I to be the mother,
To give my womb at heaven’s behest,
To let my body be the hospice
And God the guest?
Oh, what a risk in such a nation,
In such a place, at such a time,
To come to people in transition
And yet in prime…
What if the world, for spite, ignores him,
And friends keep back and parents scorn,
And every fear of every woman
In me is born?
Still, I will want and love and hold him,
His cry attend, his smile applaud.
I’ll mother him as any mortal,
And just like God.
Mary chooses obedience at great potential cost, and she does so with a song of praise on her lips.  Less than one chapter later in scripture, we read Mary's song of praise to the Lord that's known as the Magnificat.  You can find it in Luke 1:46-55.  It begins with Mary proclaiming, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."  She then describes the depth of the Lord's provision, mercy and strength for his people.

Mary's willingness to live in service to Christ and actually praise God’s provision in doing so is a powerful example of faith.  It involves faith because considering Mary’s precarious situation, provision was not a certainty.  Her obedience was risky, but she sings of the virtues of God as reason enough to trust him.  It is interesting to note that the biblical Greek used to describe God’s work in the Magnificat is in the past tense, yet it describes God’s work in the future.  Some commentators conclude that this is a testament to Mary’s faith:  She is describing God’s future promises with such conviction that it is as if they were already accomplished. 

As we seek to keep our focus on Christ this Christmas, may we dare to answer the Lord's call too.  [Tweet that.]  Is there an area in your life where God is calling you to obedience however risky it might be?  Our faith in the Christ child sometimes dictates that we simply trust while clinging to his promises.  It sometimes involves uncertainly while we're armed with only the praise on our lips.  Christmas is a reminder that hope is always being born even into our darkest hour, and if we agree to take that next step in faith, God may use us too to change the world for that little baby's glory.

Mary, Pondering is a poem from the book Cloth for the Cradle by the Wild Goose Worship Group.  It can be found on page 47 in the paperback edition that was published by the Wild Goose Resource Group (a division of the Iona Community) in 1997.

{Photo by Ted Hodges at Flickr}

If this post inspired you, please pass it on to friends and family through email or Facebook.  It would be a fantastic Christmas gift to me to continue to spread the word about this ministry!  Thank you for the gift of your reading, Friends. 

Vocational Mothering was invited to join the site Mommy Hot Spot.  My blog is listed there, and they are having a winter contest.  If you haven't yet, please click the button on my homepage to vote for me!  You can vote every 24 hours, so feel free to do so whenever you check in here.  It just takes a simple click!

Finally, make sure to stop by Vocational Mothering's Facebook page.  I often share quick links that you will not find on my blog.  For instance, I will be sharing my favorite Christmas article I've read from another author this season soon.  If you "Like" the page, you won't miss it!


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