Friday, February 4, 2011

A Mary Christmas, part 2--"A sword will pierce your own soul too"

"Flight into Egypt"

The Word for today:
Luke 1:57-80

Most of what we know about Mary is found right here, in the opening chapters of Luke.

So in a three-part series that began yesterday, Stand in the Rain is attempting to cut through the cultural and religious clutter that has obscured this complex character.

Yesterday we met the Mom-to-be. Today we will follow Mom and baby from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth.

Tomorrow we will look at the man that baby becomes--from a unique perspective: through the eyes of his Mom.

When the angel announced to her that she'd been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God, she counted the personal cost of submission to God's will, then simply trusted Him to work things out. She composed a song that magnified the greatness of the Lord while she willingly faced the rejection and the snide gossip. She and Joseph marveled, and wondered, as the elderly prophet Simeon held the child in his arms and blessed God for allowing him to see His salvation:
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (1)

It is apparent from the song she composed (Luke 1:46-55) that Mary had memorized and skillfully spliced together many Old Testament phrases in her praises to God. Knowing Scripture by heart, leaving Bethlehem with her child in her arms, re-playing Simeon's freshly fallen prophecy as they escaped from Herod to Egypt, this new Mom's thoughts turned to some of the Bible's other Moms. She thought of Hannah, whose song at the dedication of her child, Samuel, had inspired Mary's own song. And then she thought of Rachel and Jacob, on their way to Bethlehem, so long ago:

And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor.
And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. (2)

Then from Egypt to Nazareth of Galilee, her thoughts must have been filled with images in conflict:
And a sword will pierce your own soul too…
The falling and rising of many…
A sign spoken against…
Hearts revealed…

And with that echoing verse of scripture which, awake or dreaming, she couldn't seem to escape:
Rachel called him Benoni, 'the son of my sorrow'…but his father called him Benjamin, 'the son of my right hand,' the victorious one…

("A Mary Christmas" will conclude tomorrow.)

(1) Luke 2: 34-35; (2) Genesis 35:16-19

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