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Consider Your Mother

      There is a boy in my neighborhood who wants to play with my eldest son as frequently as other neighborhood children, only this child completely refuses to acknowledge me, my son’s mother, when he enters and exits my home, or when I greet him outside. I call out his name and directly address him, like I do other children, but he ignores me. So, when my son has choices about friends to invite over, I must confess it is this boy whom I welcome the least because of his blatant disregard for the Mother of our home: me! I pray to be loving towards him, despite my irritation, because It isn’t his fault that no one has taught him respect for adults—or, at least, not for his friends’ mothers.

     Jesus was a son. His mother was Mary. She was with the angel Gabriel at the annunciation—the announcement that she had been chosen to bear into the world the long-awaited and much-prophesied Messiah. Mary, a child of God, was, like you and me, given Choice. Mary could have refused; instead, she said Yes. We call this her “fiat,” or in Latin, “Let it be done.”  It’s her “amen,” which in Hebrew means the same: “So be it.” Yes, she would allow the world to be altered forever through her very womb!

     Mothers, tell me, have you ever sat and marinated in that concept? She was a virgin, and her culture expected her to remain so until her wedding night (unlike today’s culture). She was engaged to Joseph, a well-respected member of the community, and had made him a promise to be chaste. By saying yes to Gabriel—to God—to the Holy Spirit—she said yes to endangering her own life, as she could have been stoned to death for perceived indecency (and would have been but for Joseph’s sheltering arm of protection)! She didn’t just say yes to pregnancy, but she said yes to bearing. She bore Jesus—who was, and is, and is to come.

     Yes, every Christian accepts the Holy Spirit to dwell within and to guide our beings, but our invitation is different from her acceptance. None of us has held so much of God's presence as to be pregnant with Him.

     Contemporary Protestant Christians tend to talk about the mother of Jesus Christ just once a year: on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Within the Protestant world there is great shyness about going much deeper into the Virgin’s story, so as not to seem too “Catholic.” But, I think it is important to open up our thoughts about Mary to span throughout the year—not only highlighting her testimony at Christmastime—and learn a little honor and respect from our Catholic brothers and sisters.

     Do you believe Jesus is the one and only very Son of God, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father? This expression is taken from the Nicene Creed, established by a council of Christian leaders in the early Christian church in year 325 AD so as to ward off heresies rampant in the early church and clarify orthodox beliefs. It is memorized and spoken regularly by Christians of many denominations worldwide. If you believe that Jesus is of one being with the Father--or consubstantial, of the same substance--that he actually is and always has been God, present at the beginning with the Father, present at the end when we see the heavens open up in victory, then you must think more deeply about Mary’s role. She carried Very God within her womb. She gave birth to the One who is God. She is the mother—in the sense that she carried that boy within her womb, labored, and gave birth to him—of God. She mothered—in the sense that she nursed him at her breast and held his tiny hand when he took his first steps—God. She mothered Jesus, whom Christians say is divine. Therefore, she mothered . . . God!

     Mother of God. But that’s uncomfortable! God doesn’t have, nor need a mother! He is the great “I Am!” Mother typically indicates one who came before a son—but Mary, though predetermined to be the one to carry and bear Jesus, didn’t come before him, since nothing can come before God. John the Baptist tried to sum up this before/after dilemma about Jesus in this statement: “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” (John 1:15)

     Jesus is also called the Living Word, as seen most clearly in the Book of John; see verses 1 and 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” By allowing very-God to be formed within her, Mary sacrificed more than any other human being in service to God. This should be treated as no small thing!

     When Moses was given the responsibility of bringing the Word of God to the wandering Israelites he had something physical in hand—two stone tablets with Ten Commandments etched by the hand of God himself. The Word of God was so sacred, so pure, so untouchable, that its contents remain sacred and unaltered today. We know those Ten Commandments as the foundation for a free society—a set of rules that follow two patterns: ways to love and serve God the Almighty Creator, and ways to love and serve our fellow man. Christ summarized them thus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The Word, in stone, had to be transported everywhere the Israelites walked, so it was encased in a beautiful and ornate box—unique in appearance and purpose. The box itself was even sacred, and had to be carried by poles so no one could touch it. One man—Uzzah—who reached to steady it and prevent it from falling to the ground, died when his hand touched that ark. The ark held the Word of God. Then the Word of God was made flesh—and another ark held it. Mary! She—clean, virginal, untouchable and untouched—carried within her body salvation for the world like the ark carried the Ten Commandments; Mary carried that very living Word within her womb. And, as the ark Noah built based on God’s specifications carried a select group of humanity away from the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah into new life, Mary’s fiat brought new life to humanity.

     She was a living ark; a living tabernacle.

     A third thought about Mary—who mothered Jesus in the womb, in his infancy, and all the way throughout his life, who carried the Living Word—is that she one-upped Eve. Eve—the first woman—brought sin into the world through disobedience. She did not say “amen” to God (or fiat), but said, “Hmmmm, I wonder what will happen if I disobey . . .” Eve said “my way,” while Mary said, “Yahweh!” So, as Eve birthed sin, Mary birthed the solution for sin—her son, who would take on all the sin of the whole world! Mary redeems Eve.

     She is not just another woman remembered in the unfolding testimony that God loves us—a Rahab (God-forbid!), whom we celebrate for her faith & obedience; not a Mary Magdalene, plucked from a life of darkness into the Great Light. She is not Deborah. She is not Sarah, even, bearing a child unexpectedly, nor Elizabeth, surprised as well by an “unplanned pregnancy.”

     We ought to have tremendous respect for all the forefathers of our faith, but no other character in history made such a similar commitment to God as Mary. She is not Abraham, the Father of three world religions, (Judaism, Islam and Christianity), faithful, but parent to sons Isaac and Ishmael, of two women’s wombs. Like Abraham, Mary was prepared to sacrifice her son; unlike Abraham, she did. She is not Moses, a reluctant, but ever-so-critical man in the redemption of Israel! Like Moses, Mary entered new & frightening territory in faith, alone. She is not David, who killed his lover’s husband, overwhelmed by his own sinful desires, but was still beloved by God. Abraham doubted; Mary did not doubt. Moses fumbled; Mary did not fumble. David was disobedient; Mary was obedient.

     If I am to live like Christ, I must honor what He honored. Jesus would never have abandoned the faith established by his Father, which included the Ten Commandments—meaning, he would have honored his mother & father. Honor should never be confused with worship; worship belongs solely to God! Christ certainly didn't worship his mother.

     But, yes, she is worthy of great respect. Mary is part of our Christian heritage and lineage--and we ought to honor our lineage. As she was our Lord's mother, she is our own, just as his Father is our Father.

     As American Christians muster up honor for mothers they might not daily honor, we ought to consider the mother who mothered God. She is the mother capable of mothering all of us if she could mother Jesus! Mary—called by her cousin, Elizabeth, blessed among women (Luke 1:42); called by herself the Lord’s servant (Luke 1:38); called by the angel, Gabriel, highly favored—is the mother who most deserves our honor.

Consider Mary.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Lisandrea Wentland

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