Day 22 of Advent

Poor Mary.  Those times when the boy Jesus didn’t live up to his raising and acted up, she could never yell at him, “What? Were you born in a barn?”  Just one of the many trials of being the Mother of God.

We Protestants don’t put as much emphasis on Mary as do our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters. We don’t say The Hail Mary. We don’t pray to Mary as an intercessor.  In most Reformed Protestant churches, Mary comes out at Christmastime and generally gets packed away with the nativity scene until Advent rolls around again.

I love Mary.  I want to be more like Mary, but my Mary is not the peaceful and serene-looking Mary so often depicted in works of art and in children’s Bibles.  My Mary is bold and bodacious. Mary is often held up as the feminine ideal, and I wholeheartedly agree. I want to be more like Mary—a fiercely faithful follower of God.

Grounded deeply in her faith so as not to totally freak out when an angel of the Lord appeared and told her she was going to carry God’s child.

Brave enough to say yes to carrying the Son of God, even when she knew her husband-to-be could have her stoned to death for being pregnant with somebody else’s baby.  Bold enough to sustain the stares and whispers of people who gossiped about the young girl who conceived before she was married.

Strong enough to birth a baby in a barn without the aid of a mid-wife or an epidural. Independent  enough to care for her child without her own mother, or sisters or friends around to help.

Faster than Herod’s goons, escaping to Egypt before the death squads got their hands on her baby.

A savvy woman who knew her son was the go-to guy when the wedding party ran out of wine.  A sassy woman who didn’t take any lip from her grown son—no matter who His Father was.

A devoted mother who followed Jesus all the way to Calvary and bore witness to his death on the cross.

We Protestants don’t pray to saints, but I often find myself trying to access the strength and faith of Mary.  When life gets overwhelming and I feel like God is asking me to be and do more than I can handle, I imagine a very pregnant Mary, riding on a donkey. I imagine the despair and defeat she must have felt when she learned that there was no room in the inn after the long journey.   I think of the pain and anxiety she experienced while birthing a baby in a barn—a baby she had on good authority was also God.

Mary is not just a model for women, but a model for us all. God can call the most ordinary people to do extraordinary things. When God calls us, may we respond with the faith and strength and grace of Mary, Mother of God.

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