Friday, February 3, 2017

A Mary Christmas, part 1: "the hopes and fears of all the years"

The Word for today:
Luke 1:39-56
mark this: Luke 1:46
My soul magnifies the Lord.
According to the calendar, Christmas has come and gone.
But according to our reading schedule, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Over the next three days, Stand in the Rain will be blending the Song of Mary (known as the "Magnificat," found in 1:46-55) and the Christmas Story (2:1-20) into our own Christmas carol.
We wish you "A Mary Christmas…"
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
This isn't about Christmas as much as it's about Mary; the biblical Mary, the mother of Jesus on every day of his life, who bore him, who watched him die (1), who believed in him before the first Christmas (2) and, unlike his brothers, before the first Easter (3).
Over the centuries, Mary has been misshapen. She's been over-emphasized by the Catholics. Then, in reaction, she's been under-emphasized by the Evangelicals. Prayed to by some; nearly forgotten (except for Christmas and Mother's Day) by others. Wrong and wrong.
Mary is merely awesome! The 'merely' part is because she's a sinner in need of a Savior, just as I am (4). The 'awesome' part is found, for the most part, in Luke 1 and 2. Read her brief moments in Scripture and you'll be able to discern not only who taught the Savior to walk and talk, but also who taught him to fear the Lord, and to trust in God's amazing, unfathomable, tenacious grace. If you're going to turn the world--and the tables in the Temple--upside down, this is the kind of Mom you'll need.
For the Bible student, she serves as a prime example of how important (and difficult) it is to read what Scripture says without the layers of cultural pre-conditioning we accumulate over time. Mary is merely awesome, like Scripture itself--if we take them straight, unfiltered.
(Tomorrow: "A sword will pierce your own soul too." )
(1) John 19:25; (2) see Luke 1:34-38; (3) see John 7:5; (4) Luke 1:47

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