Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mother Mary

It's a crazy story. Another teenaged girl gets pregnant.
She gives an explanation that nobody believes.
She says she's still a virgin. It is a "God-thing, a Holy Spirit thing."

Her parents must have shaken their heads in sorrow, suspicion, despair, and doubt, whispering about her in the darkness after she fell asleep.
"How can she be so calm? How can she not be ashamed of her situation?"
"She said something about going to visit Elizabeth who is also pregnant. What is going on in the world? First it's Elizabeth who has been unable to conceive all these years. She gets pregnant. Now our daughter, who is so young, who is in the middle of preparing for her wedding, gets pregnant. If Mary wants to go spend time with Elizabeth, we should let her go. The gossip might die down a little while she's gone. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to talk some sense into her."
"She said it has something to do with the Holy Spirit. What does that even mean? Should we be worried?"
"Yes, we should be worried. Let's send her to see Elizabeth and while she's gone, we can come up with a plan on how to deal with whatever it is that she's going through."

I cannot imagine what I would do if my daughter told such a story. Actually, I know exactly what I would do - I would put her in the car and take her to the adolescent behavioral health ward at the local hospital. And I would pray for her healing and for a speedy restoration of her sanity.

Mary had to know that the entire situation was wacky, that her story sounded odd, even unbelieveable. She knew what it took to get pregnant and she knew she hadn't done the deed. When she received the message from the angel, when she got the news that she was going to have a baby, she asked, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

The angel explained it - "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 the Son of God."

Who me? What? When? Why me? How will this be? How will I be?
What if this is all a hoax and none of it is true?
What if it's not a hoax and all of it is true?

Then she said some of the most daring, dangerous, inspiring words recorded in Scripture:
"Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."
I am putting my life on the line here, in the Lord's hands. I'm not sure how this is going to turn out. I'm not sure what is going to happen to me or this baby - but here goes. Here I am, Lord, use me. Use my body as a vessel. Bring it on. Let's do this.

Nazareth. Bethlehem. No room in the Inn. A baby born in a stable. Laid in a manger. The smelly animals. The excited shepherds. Angels. Joseph. Mary watched and listened and held her baby close and pondered the magnitude and meaning of what had happened to her, through her, and to the world.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about what her final week of pregnancy must have been like. She must have been exhausted and excited, reluctant and ready, fearful and fearsome. As she felt that little one moving around inside her, what questions did she have? What did she think he would look like? Who would he resemble? What would this child be like? What would be it like to hold this miraculous child in her arms? Would anyone ever believe her story? I've got dozens of questions to ask dear, courageous, strong, trusting, thoughtful, faithful Mother Mary when I finally meet her. 

I've been thinking about the messy, dangerous, angry, broken world Jesus was born into. Occupied by the Romans. Ruled by a jealous king who ordered that all the boy babies under the age of two be slaughtered - he didn't want the Newborn King to grow up and claim his throne. The slaughter of the innocents continues in our world - in Cleveland, in Sandy Hook, in Pakistan, in Charlotte, in hospitals, in schools, in movie theaters, on airplanes, in shopping malls, in homes, on the street, all over this world and this nation. Murder. Abuse. Genocide. Disease. Violence.

We need a Peacemaker. We need a Miracle Worker. We need a Redeemer. We need a Savior. 
O come, o come, Emmanuel. Be God-with-us, I pray. Touch us. Heal us. Teach us. Guide us.

I am thankful that Mary said, "yes" to that angel all those years ago. I am banking my life, my present and my eternal future, on the life, death and resurrection of the Christ Child she bore. 

What a mess. What a mystery. But if this story is true, then it is also one of the greatest miracles in all of history.

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