The Holy Gospel: December 18, 2011 (Year B)

Read:  Luke 1:26-38

Meditation:  Mary, Model of the Holy Life

I believe the Reformation was of God, but I do not believe it was perfect.  We lost some things through the turmoil.  One of them was a proper devotion to Mary.  I’m glad this week’s passage calls us to see her as the Bible portrays her.

I have come to believe that Mary is a model of the Holy Life.

She pondered her deepest moment.  She asked her deepest question.  She offered her deepest self.  And she shared her deepest joy.

We would be hard pressed to do any better than that.  In the twinkling of an eye, her life became a scandal.  People could “count up to nine” in those days, and it would not be long before the math wouldn’t add up for her and Joseph.  But Mary accepted what was happening to her, even though there would be many embarrassing misunderstandings and many painful consequences.

Somehow, Mary said (in so many words), “I accept what God wants more than I want to hold on to what I want.”  In doing that, she didn’t even know what Joseph would do, or what anyone else would do, for that matter.  But if God was in this—and it took an angel to prove it—she would yield and offer herself as what Paul would later call “a living sacrifice.”

When I was in college, there was a notion put forward in a religion class that Mary was probably impregnated by a Roman soldier passing through Nazareth.  I didn’t buy it at the time, but now years later, I think it is among the greatest arrogant insults to ever be put on the theological table.

The story stands, and it elevates any of us who will allow it to sink in—both as a blessing, and as a challenge.  “Mary Christmas!”


About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to The Holy Gospel: December 18, 2011 (Year B)

  1. Tom Pope says:

    Growing up in more or less fundamentalist/evangelical circles I failed to gain a true appreciation for what Mary had done. We paid lip service to the notion, but any more than that was getting close to being catholic because they “worshiped” Mary. How naive I was back then! As I have matured and shed the blinders imposed by my tradition I am gaining a deeper understanding of the example she sets for us. I am in awe of her as never before. Thank you for the reminder of the example she sets for us in being a fully devoted follower of God.

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