This week is the last Sunday before Christmas. As we draw near to this sacred holiday, we will consider Mary’s response to God’s calling in her life. In the first chapter of Luke, we journey with Mary to her relative’s house. This 3-4 day journey must have included reflection, doubt but ultimately ends in confirmation. As we follow God, we sometimes experience similar expeditions. Think about it; Mary is told that she is going to be a mother. She is not married, nor has she engaged in unfaithful behavior. How will her relatives believe her story? Joseph will surely abandon her. Will she be deemed insane?
As we read this story, we find Mary’s response instructive. She models an appropriate posture as God calls her into the difficult. In the early verses of the chapter, we find Mary’s response to the angel one of submission and obedience.
(Luke 1:38 NIV) “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
You have to wonder if doubts started to creep in a few days later. You have to wonder if anxiety overwhelmed her as she made the trek through the Judaean hill country. I love how this part of the story ends. When Mary shows up at Elizabeth’s house, she does not have to deliver a speech. Perhaps she had rehearsed what she would say to her relative. Yet when the door opens, the Holy Spirit takes over.
(Luke 1:41–42 NIV) When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
Mary responds with a song. The song recorded in Luke 1:46-55. It is similar in tone to a Psalm. It celebrates the fulfillment of the prophets through this child. God’s promise to Abraham is connected with what God is doing through Mary’s pregnancy. But a key phrase grabs my attention.
(Luke 1:46–47 NIV) My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
Mary describes an inner peace that contradicts her condition. She speaks of her soul glorifying God. Her spirit experiences joy. We discussed (on Sunday) the difference between joy and happiness. Let’s not forget that God’s calling to Mary was not easy. Her world hung in the balance as an unwed mother. Yet an indescribable inner peace glorifies God. Is is possible to rejoice when God calls us to experience the difficult? As we come to the close of 2012, may we be willing to open our hearts to God’s promptings in our life. May Christmas be more than a season, may the spirit of this season extend into 2013. May we learn from Mary what it means to truly give ourself to God.