There’s Something About Mary.
She never asked for her assignment to ministry. As far as we know, she was planning a calm and normal life; husband, some kids, small house, lots of friends and a secure place in her community. She knew there were joys to be found in simple living and relative obscurity. From what little we know from scripture, we might assume that she was average. She was ordinary. So what was it about Mary that called God’s attention to her? What was it that made her special? Hmmmm, there’s just something about Mary.
If you bought a new nativity set on sale at Macy’s and brought it home, set it up and realized that Mary was missing, you’d return it. You just can’t have the nativity without her. In our tradition we tend not to talk about Mary all that often, but of course, there does come a time each year when her role in our core faith story becomes vital. There is just something about Mary.
But what is it about Mary that made her so special? What is it about Mary that made God focus in on her? Young teenager, obscure town, nothing to write home about. Why was Mary was chosen above all the Hebrew women of her day and age? Was it because she was extremely pious, or because she had many priests in her lineage? She was after all a very distant descendant of King David. Some traditions believe that Mary was herself absolutely pure, without sin and so, the only possible choice to birth the incarnate God. Or – OR – What if we can imagine that that God took a very ordinary woman and offered her an extraordinary job. God offered to her an opportunity unlike any other throughout human history. “What will it be, Mary? Will you take a pass or will you take a risk?”
Perhaps the “something” about Mary- the thing that called her to the attention of God - that caused her to be singled out and to become, “Blessed among all women.” is the fact that she said yes. Well, actually she said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ (Luke 1:38) And then she went on to be joyful about taking on such responsibility.
This morning we heard the words of the Magnificat, the song of Mary. In these verses, we hear a song of praise to God for the things that have not yet come to pass – but are eagerly anticipated. It is a song of Advent. It is a song that speaks to the hope, peace, joy and love we gather each Sunday in Advent to contemplate. It is a song that remembers the promises of God and the joy that will come when the promises are fulfilled. And isn’t there just something about Mary that helps us recall those promises?
Her joyful acceptance of the task offered to her reminds us of the tasks offered to us by God. We are also called to bring forth the Christ. Obviously not in quite the same way– but to bring the message of Jesus to others and to look for the Holy Spirit to settle upon us for guidance and comfort. Something about Mary reminds us that we are to be about the tasks God sets us to without grumbling or whining. There can be joy in being a servant of God.
There is something about the location Mary gave birth to her firstborn son that reminds us of God’s power and where it might be found. We might go looking for the power in the cushiest hotel, or private hospital or even in the most expensive toys but something about the timing of Mary’s delivery of her child reminds us that God is to be found in the lowliest of places. A birth not attended by trained hospital staff and loads of relatives with baby gifts and reporters from Entertainment Tonight–but lowly shepherds, poor people, powerless people, voiceless people who received fabulous invitations to the most exclusive birthday party in history.
There is something about Mary’s love and devotion to her child that shows us God’s nurturing and care. Where we might expect the best private nursery schools and baby Gymboree, (after all, nothing is too good for Jesus) we get middle of the night fleeing to Egypt and years later, a frantic return trip to Jerusalem when the pre-teen Jesus decides to stay behind chatting in the temple. It doesn’t matter how far we have to go or what we have to do –as long as the child is safe.
And then, there is something about the way Mary remained at the execution of her son that speaks to us of the unwavering love of God-even in the face of death. When her hopes and dreams for her child come to a horrific stop –she refused to walk away; on the off-chance that her presence might be comforting to the one she loved who was suffering.
There is something about Mary that reminds us that life can come with unexpected opportunities, underrated responsibilities and unimaginable heartache. There is also something about Mary that reminds us that with God, all things are possible, that God remembers the lowly and promises to lift them up. Through Mary we are reminded that awesome and amazing things happen when we say “yes” to God
Above it and through it all, there is something about Mary’s story that teaches us about love. That love does in fact bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails and never, ever ends.