First Wednesday in Advent
Today’s Word: ‘Longing’ as in… for people who long for joy, Mary’s story inspires trust that God will lead us forward into joy, even as we continue to make our way through challenging times.
Imagining young Mary, we may see her wearing softened shades of blue and white, sitting on a donkey, praying with her head bowed, a halo glowing behind her head. Many traditional images show a sweet, beautiful, innocent, and probably a fair-skinned girl. These are common perceptions of Mary before we start peeling away a couple thousand years of Western culture.
To fully appreciate the power of Mary’s prayer, let’s consider the dire context of her sung response. When the Messenger announced that she would become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah, Mary was ‘much perplexed’, ‘thoroughly shaken’. Her soul was ‘greatly troubled’ by this ‘disturbing’ news. Because Mary was about thirteen years old, a virgin and about to become pregnant without a husband, she was understandably afraid for her life. In the first century being connected to a husband was mostly about security. Growing into adulthood was hard enough but doing so without the social connection of a male was dangerous. The engagement could be called off. Mary could be canceled by her culture for the shame of it all, leaving her physical, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and otherwise utterly abandoned. Becoming pregnant was, for Mary, like receiving a death sentence.
Let’s just pause and consider some questions…
- Over the past several months have you experienced moments that you would describe as dire?
- Has your heart ached about anything?
- Has your soul been troubled at all?
- Have there been days that have left you confused by what you’ve seen, heard, or read in the media?
- Have you felt isolated, worried that being exposed or exposing someone else to the coronavirus might be a death sentence?
Mary’s story and our stories really aren’t far apart. For people who long for joy, this is a story that inspires trust that God will lead us forward into joy. Even as we continue to make our way through challenging times.