You are Mary.
Young, engaged to be married to a man – a good man – but a man twice your age. You are chaste, a virgin still, in keeping with societal expectations of presenting a pure bride to her husband.
Things are swimming along and then <<<BOOM>>> your whole world is shaken.
An angel rocks up to say “hello” with an ulterior motive. Something like, “God is so pleased with you and admires your holy character!”
Your head is reeling. You’re confused at the sudden attention.
“Don’t worry!” the angel says, “God has a surprise for you… You’re going to fall pregnant and give birth to a son called Jesus. He will be the son of God!”
Lifting your jaw from the floor you manage to ask, “How? I’ve never had sex!”
And the angel gives the most obvious response.
“The Holy Spirit will hover over you.”
It’s right about here that most thinking women would have either erupted into fits of laughter at the absurdity of the proclamation, or run away – far, far away. But you – you of holy character – you absorb the news and nod your head.
“Ok… I’m ready.”
Move over Wonder Woman, you’ve got nothing on Mary.
Stepping out of Mary’s shoes now, perhaps you can see why she was chosen. She believed with the faith of a child – she was apparently aged as young as 13. She trusted God to meet her needs. And she said yes.
Even Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, who she went to stay with for three months, made special mention of her faith.
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)
I don’t think Mary was perfect but there’s no doubting she was exceptional. And it really comes down to that line – she believed God would do what he said he would do.
One of my favourite carols is a modern rendering of Mary’s part in the nativity story by Mark Lowry.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Did she know?
No doubt she had an inkling but Mary can’t have known the gravity of the role she would play or, more importantly, the role her son would play.
Her “yes” set her on a trajectory of greatness.
Scary to think that if Mary was alive today and faced with the same circumstances, she would be a ripe candidate for abortion.
Would you be willing to say “yes” to a crazy proposal like Mary’s? God has a way of turning crazy proposals into enduring stories that speak of his love.
Blessed are you who believe what God has said to you will be accomplished.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday December 22, 2014.
(With special thanks to the lovely Karen Zainal who gave me permission to use her stunning Madonna and Child artworks in this post.)