O Holy Night
By Liz Cowen Furman –
How do you picture Mary, Jesus’ Mother? My entire life I have been surrounded by folks who nearly put her on the same level with Jesus. I could never relate to such a perfect, annoyingly sweet pious woman who, appeared to me to be unreal, with no spunk. One who showed up every Christmas in her blue robes and made me feel inadequate.
Several months ago, I was asked to be the speaker for my church’s Taste of Christmas Tea. I began praying immediately about what God would have me share. Every time I prayed I felt led to speak on Mary. UGH! I argued with Father. “LORD, couldn’t I speak on Mary Magdalene instead?”
That other Mary is someone I can relate to. A sinner, she had blown it, she had disobeyed God yet He redeemed her. Great hope in that story. But nope, He wouldn’t let me go there.
I decided if He wanted me to talk on Mary I needed to do serious research. So I went online and found much on Mary. Most confirmed what I had always thought about her. I was sad.
A dear friend (oddly enough with the same name as Jesus’ Mom) pointed me to a book by Marjorie Holmes called Two from Galilee. She assured me I would never look at the manger the same again. She was right, it was wonderful. A must read.
I read the gospel accounts so many times I have them memorized. Perusing online I purchased every book I could find about Mary and dove in. The best was titled, The Real Mary by Scot McKnight. What I discovered about Mary made her into my new best friend.
Jesus’ mother was no doormat. She was an ordinary young woman whom God called to do a job for Him. A faithful, courageous, dangerous woman of witness whose life I now can really relate to and aspire to emulate.
Mary was a woman of faith because when God called on her to do a seemingly impossible task for Him she said “yes” and let Him work out the details. She trusted God.
She was a courageous woman because she could have been stoned or divorced, she could and probably was ostracized. So would her baby for being illegitimate. Yet, she still answered His call on her life with a yes and trusted Him to protect them.
At some points in her journey she must have thought, “O Holy Night, what have I done?” Because God didn’t promise following Him would be easy, just that He would see us through. Imagine five days on a donkey’s back in the wind and heat nine months pregnant. That must have been fun.
Mary was dangerous because when she arrived at Elizabeth’s house and her calling was confirmed she broke into song.
In the Magnificat (found in Luke chapter 1), Mary’s words to Elizabeth, were tantamount to treason against the king (one who had members of his own family murdered if he perceived them as a threat).
McNight showed me that when she sang “God has brought down rulers from their thrones“, hearers would have immediately seen the implications for Herod and Rome. When she announced “God has sent the rich away empty” hearers would have immediately thought of those benefiting from the heavy taxation.
When Mary proclaimed “God has lifted the humble” and “has filled the hungry with good food” folks would have known it was meant for the poor just like her.
If Mary had sung her Magnificat on the streets of Nazareth among her peers they would have toasted and shouted halleluiah! But if Herod had gotten wind of it she would have been crucified. She sang it anyway believing God. So confident was she that she sang in past tense as though God had already done it. She simply trusted God to do what He promised.
In the 1980s her song was banned in Guatemala as subversive to the government. No patsy our Mary. No, she was not a wimp.
Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “the LORD searches all over the earth for people who have given themselves completely to Him. He wants to make them strong.”
So, how about you? God promises He has a job for each of us to do. He will make us strong if we will trust Him. When He calls you out for His purpose will you, like Mary answer, “Let it be to me as you say?” Or will you turn away in fear, untrusting and doubtful. I am praying for courage to say, “Here am I LORD, send me!” Hope you are too.