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Mary Doesn’t Do It Alone–Neither Do We!

In these uncertain times, we may feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world and the deficits of our leaders. The biblical story of Mary metaphorically tells us what to look for from God, “however we understand” our Higher Power.

How did God help Mary—the Mary we seek to emulate in her willingness to bring something new into the world?

God first sent an angel, a messenger from God who told her not to be afraid, explaining what was happening, how God was working out a purpose in her life, giving her vision of her sacred worth, as well as calling her out as an instrument of God’s in-breaking kingdom, or commonwealth.

God sent her a kinswoman, Elizabeth, visited by the same angel and experiencing the same miracle of giving birth to a new order, pregnant with the forerunner John the Baptist. She affirmed Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

God gave Mary a religious tradition in which nativities of the Spirit were recognized and valued: Sarah with Isaac, Hannah with Samuel. Mary knows her tradition well because she is able to sing a song of praise to God that parallels Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel.

God gave Mary a theology that included the feminine: Sophia, Wisdom, without whom creation wasn’t possible.

God provided Mary Joseph. In a culture that did not permit women to earn income, his resources would be needed to sustain and protect the young family. Joseph could also serve as cover for an unwed pregnant girl for whom tradition might have required stoning.

God gave Mary shepherds, common folk, as well as Magi, foreign religious leaders, to assure her that what was being born was of great significance to people at every level of society, in every part of the world, in every faith tradition.

God gave Mary an indifferent leader, Caesar Augustus, as well as a threatened, insecure leader, Herod, to soberly realize that what she was doing might not be recognized or welcomed as God’s inevitable work. Such opposition would give her an inkling of the revolutionary nature of God’s working.

God gave Mary the prophet Simeon and the prophet Anna who, in the temple, bore witness to her child’s sacred worth and divine calling.

And God gave Mary the Holy Spirit, empowering her to conceive, carry, birth, and rear a child of God who would remind us that we are all children of God.

“Somebody’s gotta be Mary!” last week’s post proclaimed. But no one has to be Mary alone, because that first Mary was not alone.

As we give birth to a new order, a fresh understanding of the Gospel and of scripture, a reformed understanding of the church, a revolutionary critique of all “powers that be,” we are not alone. God has given us what God gave Mary:

Angels who tell us to “fear not” and help us understand our individual callings.

Kinswomen and kinsmen of like spirit who bless us, affirming the fruit of our movement.

A spiritual tradition whose expansive nature has overcome walls that unnecessarily divide us, reconciling us as one people in the midst of great diversity, standing on the side of the oppressed and underprivileged, yet understanding that such a stand also redeems the oppressor and privileged, proclaiming an in-breaking commonwealth of redeeming mercy and grace, saving justice and righteousness.

A theology whose wisdom understands a greater and larger and more compassionate God than ever before.

We have Josephs, without whose defenses and resources we would have no buffer between us and the Caesars and Herods of our time.

We have every day folk as well as leaders and scholars who have assured us that we are doing the right thing; those who have seen angels singing of peace and goodwill among all or witnessed and followed the star of God’s hope for the world.

We have indifferent leaders and we have hostile leaders to remind us that anything worth devoting our lives to requires more than our lifetimes to achieve, to amplify a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr. They remind us that movements transcend not only geographical, cultural, and religious boundaries, but generational boundaries as well.

And we have prophets—a great cloud of witnesses, living and dead—who, like Anna and Simeon, sing of God’s salvation in every nativity of the Spirit.

And God has given us the Holy Spirit, who has conceived in us a more inclusive spiritual community that would remind the whole earth we are all children and creatures of God.

We are not alone. God is with us in so many ways. The story of Jesus’ nativity reminds us of that.
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