Have a Mary Christmas   Leave a comment

I wish for you to have a Mary Christmas.  No, that is not a typo.  Mary – as in the mother of Jesus.  Joseph’s wife.  That Mary.

Mary is one of the central characters in the true Christmas story of the birth of Jesus.  Over the centuries she has been lifted up, worshiped, discarded, speculated about, and archtyped.  (to coin a word) 

I have always seen Mary as the quiet presence, the one who held it together, the one who did what she had to do because someone had to do it and she was that someone.  I always thought Mary had great faith.  When the shepherds came to them to see the baby Jesus and told her and Joseph about what they had seen and been told, the Bible says about Mary’s reaction, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) I have always identified with Mary, because she reminds me of myself.

The Bible gives us few clues as to the person she was.  She was young.  How young?  I have heard as young as 13.  The Bible does not say, but I have always placed her age in my own mind at around 17 or 18.  Joseph was most likely older – possibly in his late 20’s.  She was, we hope, a woman in love.  She was engaged to Joseph and our best guesses are that it was not an arranged marriage, so she must have loved him and sweetly and happily anticipated marriage to him.

She was a Jew, and based on the little the Bible says we can guess she was devout in her faith.  She lived in a small town, which means everyone knew everyone else.  Their business, what they had for dinner, who argued with who, who was sick, who were the trouble makers, who to go to for help, who everyone’s fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers were.  Despite the Roman occupation and the fact that Galilee in general was despised by the Jews to the South, I have always pictured Mary’s life as one of peaceful, small town-ish, quietness.  She may have been pleased to be marrying Joseph, who was a hard worker and we hope his business was a good one.  She may have looked forward to raising children in that town, that area, and living a long time with Joseph there.

And one day, that changed.  We don’t know what Mary was doing when the angel spoke to her.  We know she listened. We know she obeyed. I can’t imagine how hard the pregnancy was for her.  Pregnant!  Before marriage!  No matter what she said or what Joseph said – no one was going to believe she was still a virgin with a baby growing inside her.  In a small town like that it must have set tongues wagging and heads shaking.  And then Joseph did not have her stoned.  Or even divorce her quietly.  They went right on with the wedding plans while she slowly got bigger and bigger.  Scandal!  Shock!  The pressure on her must have been enormous.  Joseph could be excused from blame, and he could find another.  But Mary would have that baby the rest of her life and would have a hard time getting another man to accept her. 

And what was Mary’s reaction to this?  What was her response when the angel told her she would be pregnant – would hold God’s very own son inside herself?  She must have known what the repercussions of that declaration would be.  Angel or no – it was a hard thing to accept.  To go out on a limb like that, to face the scandal and gossip and shame.  To face family pressures and possibly the loss of friends.  I can picture Mary, sitting in the light, absorbing the words of the angel, thinking, contemplating.  The repercussions clicking one by one in her head.  And what was her response?

“I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary said.  “May it be to me as you have said”. (Luke 1:38)

And that is why I wish you a Mary Christmas.  We should all be so open, so willing, and so obedient to what God tells us or asks us.  Despite the odds and opposition and our own failings and shortcomings — we should all have that same response to God. 

Have a Mary Christmas!

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Posted December 7, 2010 by Maureen in Christian, Musings

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