Summary: God called an ordinary girl to be the Mother of God. Mary’s call emphasizes the truth that God uses the ordinary to accomplish extraordinary things.
Luke 1:26-38 “The Miracle of the Ordinary”
As Christians, other Christians sometimes intimidate us. So often we are challenged to emulate extraordinary Christians. “Be more like St. Paul the first missionary to the gentiles and firebrand Christian,” we are told. We have the example of St. Peter, who sacrificed all for Jesus and eventually was martyred for his faith by being crucified upside down. There is Martin Luther who defied the religious and political authorities of his time by declaring, “Here I stand, I can do no other.’ Of course there are also the modern day saints such as Mother Theresa and Martin Lutheran King, who have captured the spotlight and the imagination of the world. Though we may want to be like these people, we know deep in our hearts that we don’t have what they had to do what they did.
I’m attracted to this story about Mary because Mary is so ordinary. Yes, I know that she eventually was called the “Mother of God,” but that was toward the end of her life. As the story opens, Mary is simply an ordinary girl.
We don’t know much about Mary at the beginning of this story. This is perhaps one of the most noteworthy elements of this story. We know that she lived in the hill country in a Podunk town called Nazareth. We also know that she was young and that she was a virgin. All of these are good qualities, but they aren’t really notable qualities.
What is missing in this story are accolades. Mary was not call the most righteous person of Nazareth, or that she had gained a reputation for a loving ministry to the leper colony outside of town. She is not identified as the most beautiful, or the most intelligent. We know nothing about her basketball, volleyball, or cheerleading capabilities. In other words, we can assume that she wasn’t the best and the brightest star in the Galilean countryside.
So, we must ask ourselves, “Why did God chose Mary?” Two obvious answers spring to mind. First, Mary was chosen for the very fact that she was ordinary. The birth and life of Jesus are blatantly counter-cultural. God is not about impressing the rich and powerful.
Rather, God is focused on bringing salvation and the good news to the poor and needy.
Secondly, God chose Mary because God wanted to choose Mary. This is a passage that boldly proclaims the sovereignty of God. God is above being impressed by academics, athletics, or a volunteer service record. God refuses to be controlled by our insignificant attempts to look good and to persuade God to conform to our will.
COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Our story is like Mary’s. When God enters our lives and chooses us to be members of God’s family, disciples of Jesus Christ, and servants of God, we were just ordinary people. Like Mary, also, God is not content to keep us ordinary. The Spirit of God moves in our lives to make us more than we are and use us in extraordinary ways.
Discipleship has its costs, though. Mary found this out very quickly. Her parents, family and townsfolk were not impressed when she announced that she was pregnant, but it was a child from God. She faced the shame of being young, unmarried and pregnant. She risked the destruction of her relationship/engagement to Joseph. She was judged and judged harshly.
Mary probably did not know the cost of her saying “Yes,” to the angel and responding, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” Still, the reader gets the impression that even if she did know the shame, doubt and struggles she would endure that Mary probably would have made the same response.
FROM ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY
Mary was an obedient servant of God. Because of this, God was able to use Mary to God’s glory.
God’s will—that all might experience God’s love and forgiveness and live in a relationship with God combined with Mary’s obedience. Joined together, great things were accomplished—things that Mary couldn’t possibly have imagined when she first saw the angel.
The world is a vastly different place because of the obedience of an ordinary, young girl. Our lives are different—unimaginably different—because a young girl said, “Yes,” over two thousand years ago.
May we discover the miracle of the ordinary this Advent and Christmas season. May we realize that the wonder of Christmas is not in big, expensive gifts. Rather, the greatness of Christmas is in the gift of the Christ child, a smile, a hug, a word of praise and encouragement—ordinary gifts.