Summary: Funeral sermon for Mary Henry, aged 101, prayer warrior and Bible student, who, like the Biblical Mary, could accept whatever the Word taught her.
Submission is not subservience. Humility is not the same thing as low self-esteem. In fact, it takes a strong and certain heart to be submissive and not subservient, to be humble and not cowardly.
If ever there was a strong and certain heart, that was Mary Henry. She knew how to submit to all that came her way, finding the will of her Lord in it; but she was never subservient to anyone. She learned, she perfected, the art of humility, but she was afraid of nothing. Like the great apostle, who told the church in Philippi, "I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances ... I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Can you imagine how many times in 101 years of living Mary Henry had to make a decision about how her energies would be spent? Can you even dream about what it must be like, day by day, month by month, for a century, to consider how that time and that energy should be used? Some of us have trouble filling even one day with meaning; we get bored and resort to the boob-tube just to kill time. Others of us run frantically around, trying to do anything and everything, fearful we won’t have enough time. But somehow Mary Henry had the secret of neither being bored nor hurried, neither idle nor anxious. How did she do it? Whence came this calm, this quiet spirit, this centeredness?
This past Sunday a few of us were sitting around talking about our experiences with Mrs. Henry. Several spoke about the way she had of encouraging you and telling you she would be praying for you. Others said flatly that she was directly responsible, through her witness, for their being members of this church. And during that conversation Robert Faulkner said, "Mary Henry’s way was the way given in the Scriptures, ’Be it unto me according to your word.’"
That struck me as right on target. "Let it be unto me according to your word, (God’s word)". Submissive but not subservient, humble but not cowardly.
And guess what? That word of Scripture came from, of all places, the mouth of Mary. Mary the mother of our Lord. Now it may just be my peculiar way of looking at things, but sometimes I find that people with Biblical names pick up on the characteristics of the persons for whom they are named. Somehow, some way, if we connect with somebody in the Bible, we begin to reflect that person’s outlook.
And so Mary … Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary Henry, spiritual mother to many in this fellowship. Both of them, "Be it unto me according to your word"
You remember the circumstances under which the Mary of the Bible spoke this word. She had witnessed her cousin Elizabeth conceiving a child in her older years, and had felt the joy of what God was doing in her family. She had found a special personal joy with a man named Joseph, whom she was engaged to marry.
But suddenly one day the messenger of God ... suddenly one day a mysterious greeting and a perplexing message … suddenly her happy, comfortable little world turned upside down, for the message was, ’’You have found favor with God, and you will conceive and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the son of the most high ... and of his kingdom there will be no end."