This is a passage that speaks to me this weekend, something preached in church this morning.
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.’
You could speculate forever and never know what was going on in Mary’s head that day as she stood in fear before the angel Gabriel. I know that she was young, likely much younger than I am. I know that she was unmarried, a virgin, but engaged to a man named Joseph. I know that she was highly favoured by the Lord. She knew, no doubt, that only shame awaited her as an unwed mother. Did it flash through her mind that Joseph would leave her? That she could face death as an adultress?
“May it be to me as you have said.”
I’ve just finished reading the gospel of Mark. It ends with what we commonly refer to as “the Easter story”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Christmas has become a much larger celebration in our society than Easter. The Christmas story is soft, dimly-lit. There are angels and shepherds and a sweet baby. We ignore the fact that the stable probably stank, that Mary was likely young and afraid and maybe cried because she had to put her new baby in a manger. It was likely terrifying to be visited by three strange men from foreign lands who brought odd and inappropriate gifts.
The thing is, it’s all one story. That baby grew up to die a criminal. To die a brutal and inhuman death. Mark tells us Jesus was scourged and mocked. John tells us that Mary was there at the foot of the cross, witnessing the horror of her son’s death (John 19:25).
Of course Mary didn’t know this when she stood in front of Gabriel. She likely knew it would be hard. It was likely much harder than she knew it could be.
Today, this weekend, in our world that seems more fallen and sinful than can really be possible, the Christmas story, the Easter story – the truth of the Gospel story – is more important than ever. Sinners that we are, our God came to earth as a baby and died for us. And today, what I strive for is the faith and hope and bravery of Mary. To step forward and to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”