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Who better to think about in the season of Advent—when the church waits and prepares for Christmas—who better to look at as an example then Mary? Mary, bless her heart, seems to have been just minding her own business when the angel Gabriel shows up to tell her she’ll be carrying and bearing the incarnation of God. Mary being pregnant when she isn’t married in that time and that place is no laughing matter; it was a HUGE deal. Joseph, her fiance, had the legal—and biblical—right to have Mary killed, stoned, in fact—not something that’s very Christmas cheery, but something’s that true nonetheless. Despite the picture of the grown woman that I know pops into my head when I say Mary, the fact of the matter is, at this point, Mary was young, really young--maybe even twelve. Though we may think of Mary as being meek, accepting, and/or obedient, I think Mary must have been so incredibly brave. She deals with what was indisputably the biggest challenge in her life incredibly graciously.
Our own lives can be dramatic on occasion, like Mary's. Obstacles and speed bumps pop up, because that’s just life. Maybe we don’t make a certain grade, make a certain team, or get into the certain college in the way we originally envisioned. Relationships evolve—we make new friends, our families might change or move, friends and family get sick and sometimes they don't get better. The only thing we can expect is the unexpected. I don’t know much about what Mary’s plan was, but I can almost guarantee you it did not involve getting pregnant when she was twelve or thirteen before she was married.
The reading from Luke for today picks up right after Mary’s found out this incredible, life-changing news. What does Mary do when life throws her the ultimate curveball? What would anybody do, but particular a teenage girl? She went to go talk to someone about it. Notice who Mary goes to see. Mary didn’t go and see any of her friends. Mary didn’t go talk to Joseph. Mary doesn’t go talk to her mom or her dad. No, Mary goes and sees another adult in her life, an adult with whom she already has a relationship. Mary goes to talk to her aunt Elizabeth.
I see our generations as being increasingly isolated. Families live further apart; kids have less free time to get to know the people they're not with all day long (their school peers). That can be one of the gifts of a church family--one of the last intergenerational spaces. Every Tyra needs a Ms. Taylor, Helen Keller an Anne Sullivan, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle an Uncle Jesse or Uncle Joey, Harry Potter a Dumbledore. We all get sent down some twisty, kinda weird paths sometimes. Mary’s journey must have been waaaayyy different than she expected.
Will our Marys have Elizabeths?
Written by Ann Bonner-Stewart