Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mary's story revisited, Part One.

Just as I want to reach out to family and friends at this joyful season with the Christmas cards I still haven't managed to send, I also want to reach out to my (oft-neglected) blog-readers.  As Christmas speeds closer, I thought you might like to reflect for a minute or two on Mary.  Two years ago, I was asked to give a sermon in the first person as Mary, costume and all!  What follows is the text from that talk (reposted from 2009, I know, totally blog-cheating)--written as if Mary was speaking.   I hope you enjoy reflecting on the birth of our Savior!  Merry Christmas!

I am so humbled and thankful for this opportunity to share the story of the birth of my first -born son, Jesus, with you. It is my favorite story of all.  Of course, all mothers love to tell of their experiences of bringing their children into the world…I’m no exception. But this birth story is so un-ordinary.   And it doesn’t belong just to me—but to all of us.  I’ve treasured these things and pondered them in my heart and am so happy to be sharing them with you.

Even after all of these years I still can’t believe this happened to me. I was just a poor, jewish girl from an obscure village of 400 called Nazareth. I’ll never understand why God chose me to be the one.

Let me start at the beginning. I hadn’t been of marrying age very long…but was already pledged to be married to Joseph, a local carpenter. This was the first stage of marriage, and meant that although I still lived with my folks, I was legally Joseph’s wife. My parents had arranged the marriage, as was our custom. I was relatively pleased with their choice. I didn’t know him well, but I knew he was from our tribe, and from the royal line of David, and that he observed the Torah and loved God. He had a trade that would provide us a sufficient living. What more could I ask for? I knew I would easily grow to love him…just like my mother learned to love my father…and was anticipating the day when he would take me to his home and I would live as his wife.

One day during that time of betrothal--the day that forever changed my life--as I took a break from my daily chores to rest, I felt a disturbance in the air. It’s hard to describe—but the hair on my arms stood up on end and my skin tingled. I looked up and before me was a figure unlike any person I had ever seen before. He was glowing so bright I could not make out his face. He said, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you”.

To say I was startled and afraid was an understatement…my heart was racing, my breath was caught in my throat. Could he mean me? Favored? Then he told me not to be afraid and called me by name, Mary. When he said my name, a peace came over me—for which I’m very thankful. I’m not sure I would have been able to hear what he said next because of the pounding of my heart in my ears! But God calmed me. The messenger went on to tell me that I would be with child, and give birth to a son, and give him the name Jesus. (I remember hoping he meant eventually…but somehow knew he meant soon.)

He then went on to tell me the most overwhelming news of all—that this son will be great and will be called Son of the Most High! He will have David’s throne! And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever…His kingdom would have no end!

My mind swirled with the implications of what he was saying. I knew promises of the scriptures well enough to know he was saying that I would be giving birth to the long-awaited Messiah!

I asked him how this could be that I would be with child when I hadn’t been with any man? And then he told me I would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit! I had never heard of that before…and didn’t understand…but he spoke with such authority that I knew that what he was telling me must be true. 

As if this wasn’t enough for me to take in…He went on to tell me that my cousin Elizabeth was pregnant as well! Let me tell you, this was just as impossible as me being pregnant—as she was well past child-bearing age and had never even been able to have a child. Elizabeth had long ago given up hope on ever having a child. He said nothing is impossible with God.

In my opinion, the most surprising thing of all was yet to come. The most surprising thing was that I consented! I said, “I am the lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” God gave me the strength to muster some courage and agree to this plan. As soon as I did, the messenger left me.

to be continued tomorrow...

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