Summary: Often times we find it difficult to submit to God’s will, but Mary serves as an inspiring example of how we can submit to God even when God’s plan is an utter mystery to us.
Third Sunday of Advent, Year A; Downsville Baptist Church; 16 Dec. 2001
She was the last girl anybody expected to fall under this kind of disgrace. Fourteen years old, a freshman at Jerusalem High School with a straight A average, Mary always attended church and was considered by everyone in the community the kind of daughter you hoped you would have. Mary did not go to the wild parties. Mary did not do drugs. Mary did not talk back to her parents. Mary and her boyfriend Joseph had even led a “True Love Waits” Rally to challenge all of their friends to save sex for marriage. Her boyfriend Joseph was a senior, star of the football team, and President of the church’s youth group. He and Mary had made plans for the future. Joseph would stay in town after graduation and become a carpenter’s assistance. By the time Mary graduated, Joseph should have enough saved up to open up his own carpenter’s shop and they could get married.
Now you are going to find this next part hard to believe. One night while Mary was tossing and turning in her bed, trying to fall asleep, she was visited by an angel. The angel told her that she had found favor in God’s eyes and that she was going to become pregnant with God’s child. The child she would bear would be the most important person to ever walk upon the face of this earth. His name would be “Immanuel.” Mary’s child would be “God with Us.” The news is so exciting . . . that is, for about 15 minutes before the 14 year old Mary realizes that nobody will believe her. Her parents will be disgraced to have a daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock. Her entire community of support and friendship at both school and church will turn against her with scornful accusations of hypocrisy. And Joseph, oh no!, Joseph. She loved him so much, but how could he be expected to believe that this baby was God’s baby, that she had not betrayed him and slept with another man, an intimacy they had not even allowed one another. Later, Joseph would find out soon enough and true to his character he would behave like a gentleman. He was hurt and he was angry, but he still loved Mary. He would end their relationship in as quiet and a respectable way as possible. What Joseph did not know is that he too would soon be visited by an angel who would impart to him the truth that Mary’s expectant situation was just as she had described it—an act of God. Everything would eventually work out between Joseph and Mary, but not yet.
Once a mother was anxiously watching from the window for her 7 year old daughter to return home from school. A storm was brewing in the east. Lightning was flashing and thunder was roaring. The mother always let her daughter walk home from school because the campus was only 3 blocks from their home. Finally, the mother caught a glimpse of her daughter, 70 yards away, walking toward the house at a leisurely pace. The mother became a bit perplexed when she noticed that every time the lightning would flash in the skies her daughter would stop walking, turn her face toward the menacing clouds and smile. Then she would begin walking again. A couple of minutes later the mother met her daughter at the front door. “Sweetie, I was watching you walk home. What were you doing, stopping so often in a storm like this?” “Momma,” the girl replied, “God’s flashbulb on his camera kept going off so I had to stop and smile while he was taking my picture.” When we try to imagine what Mary must have been feeling, we usually miss the mark completely because we are not like her. In retrospect, it is easy for us to consider Mary the blessed, chosen, mother of the baby Jesus—Mary, a little girl who stops and smiles for God to take her picture. However, if you were to actually put any of us in Mary’s situation, feeling blessed by God might be the last thing we would feel. Some have suggested that Mary’s situation was a cursed one in which she draws the ridicule of the masses and the disappointment of those closest to her.