Friday, December 19, 2008

What Were You Thinking, Mary?

I've been thinking a lot about Mary lately.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, has been on my mind a lot as I have spent time with different women who have recently given birth to a child or who have conceived a child to be born in the new year.

Two conversations have especially made me think about Mary.  One of the conversations was with a woman who wanted badly to have a vaginal birth but who instead had to give birth by C-Section after a long time in labor.  The other conversation was with a woman who had not imagined getting pregnant so early in her marriage.  "We thought we would enjoy each other for a couple of years and then get pregnant," she said.  But, God's timing was different.  God's timing was much, much earlier.

An angel named Gabriel came to Mary, telling her that she was a favored one and that God was with her.  Gabriel then said, "'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 (Luke 1:30-31).'"

Mary heard the news and then went to her relative, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant.  And, instead of complaining, Mary shared with Elizabeth, "'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

She then continues to tell others about this one being born through her saying, "'His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors...'"

They are beautiful words.  They are extraordinary words of a woman with great faith - a woman who was not prepared to give birth to the Savior of the world but one who knew that God was at work in her life and so she was willing to be the God-bearer.

My friends, we are all God-bearers.  While thankfully none of us have been named the recipients of a message like the one Gabriel brought to Mary, we have all been called to bear God.  We have all been called to allow God to be born through us.  God continues to select ordinary people like you and me as the people who will bear God to others - bringing God's grace to those who are filled with mistakes of the past, bringing God's love to those who are feeling alone, bringing God's peace to those filled with anxiety, bringing God's light to this world where too much darkness looms, bringing God's welcome to those who have only seen closed doors.

Without us, God can have a hard time breaking through.  God continues to take ordinary things and uses them to do extraordinary measures.  You have been chosen.  We have been chosen. 

How is it that we will be God-bearers on this day?

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