In an instant, her life had been transfigured into something she could never understand. Mary had accepted her Call in a moment of wonder and fear, as she stood before the angel who had surprised her. Now, there was no going back for this young woman. She couldn’t have processed fully the words of the angel Gabriel. Mary humbly, and perhaps excitedly, simply agreed to fulfill this Calling for her life. But as she uttered those words of affirmation, could Mary really have anticipated how quickly and deeply she would be judged by those around her? Did she know that this might be too much for Joseph? Did she comprehend the loneliness that this Call would bring with it? Was she old enough to understand the heartache that comes with sacrifice? Mary, did you know any of this as you stood face to face with God’s messenger and answered without time to think?
Some 2,000 years later, it is easy for us to glorify Mary’s journey into motherhood. We celebrate her exchange with Gabriel and we re-enact her trip to Bethlehem with that ‘holy’ night in a stable. We are told that Mary pondered and cherished all these things. Of course she did. But this very young woman, just a teenager, also must have been terrified and lonely and distraught as her new life unfolded more or less beyond her control. It is Mary’s faith that I wish to emulate the most, although I may never truly comprehend such faith. Then again, she had little choice by now but to trust in God. I, too, have sat in the darkness of a night feeling scared or lonely or distraught. I, too, have cried out from my heart to God with an unjustified hope – because it was all I had to cling to in that moment. I, too, have watched in wonder as I pondered and cherished new life unfold before my very eyes – sometimes my new life and other times the birth of new life in someone else. Perhaps, what I love the most about Mary, is that she lived in a deep despair as she gave birth to the Lord. Mary’s life was real, and not some glorious celebration. I can relate, because Mary – and so much more importantly her child – can relate to me. For the Incarnation of the Lord happened within the reality of our every day lives – and not removed from earthly struggle. Thus, tonight, yet again, I will sit staring at a stable, and my heart will wonder even as my mind wanders…Amen.
-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)