There is so much to do. The woman spends her day like most other days, running errands and tending to chores, and there is still more to be completed before the day is done. On top of it all, she is planning her wedding, a stressful endeavor in and of itself, let alone in addition to an already busy schedule. In the midst of all the chaos, the woman is brought to a full and abrupt halt. The fifteen chores she is currently juggling come crashing down. Her usually racing mind, already jumping ahead to the next task, is wiped blank. She physically stops as if she’s walked into a wall, as she stares at the man who has seemingly appeared out of thin air in front of her. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
In that moment, everything changed. The humility of Jesus’ birth doesn’t begin when there is no room at the inn. It begins with Mary. “Mary is humble because she’s a nobody, and she has not had kids yet. You’re basically trusting God’s salvation to someone who doesn’t know how to raise a baby, who isn’t even married yet,” remarks Rev. Joel Hess in this week’s episode of Ringside. Imagine the fear and confusion that coursed through Mary in that moment. Fear of the angel standing in front of her. Fear of the role God had chosen her for. Confusion over how Gabriel’s words could possibly come to be. Yet, Mary’s faithful reply is, “Let it be to me according to your word.” “I think her confession when Gabriel comes to her is one of the most beautiful confessions of faith,” says Rev. Paul Koch, “It’s stunning. She gives us a pattern of what faith looks like.”
Mary was given a critical and distinguished role when she was chosen to bring our Savior into the world. She plays a part in the nativity worthy of our respect and admiration, and accepts her role with bold and unflinching faith. But the birth of Christ is not the only time Mary appears as an important part in the story. Paul recounts, “In John’s gospel she’s featured twice, I think. She’s at the wedding feast at Cana, and then she disappears until she’s at the foot of the cross…I think she’s very much a picture of the church in John’s gospel.” In both instances, Mary continues to display the same faithfulness in Jesus that she did to the angel Gabriel, and she models what the church should be and what our faith should look like.
Mary believed in who Jesus was and what he was capable of even before his first outward sign, she listened to and learned from him throughout his ministry, and she stands at the foot of the cross as he is crucified, she is there in the very beginnings of the church. Joel notes, it is “interesting that on the cross, of all the relatives and places she could have gone, Jesus gives her to the church to care for.” During both the Christmas season, where she features so prominently, and the rest of the year, we should look to Mary not just for her calling to bear the Son of God, but as a model of the church and how we ought to be. May God grants us faith like Mary’s, the courage to be bold and trusting as she was, and that her legacy as a faithful member of the church may continue to inspire us.
This week we celebrate the incarnation and birth of our Savior, the beginning of a long journey to Calvary. This is where you take up your part in the story, where you are dragged into salvation, transformed into a brother or sister of Christ, co-heirs of the promise. The death and resurrection of Jesus is where you, like Mary, become a favored one. Maybe instead of “Merry Christmas” we should go back to, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside with the Preacher Men. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, Tyler the Intern, and guest Rev. Graham Glover as they duke it out over the importance of the incarnation, the best way to celebrate the holidays during difficult times, whether Santa could beat baby Jesus in a fight, and more on the full Ringside with the Preacher Men episode, “God Shat His Pants.”
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