“I wanna be a lion
Yeah, everybody wants to pass as cats
We all wanna be big, big stars
Yeah, but we got different reasons for that…” ~
Mr. Jones, by Counting Crows
Everyone seems to have an innate desire to be significant somehow. There’s nothing more intriguing, it seems, than following someone’s rise to fame from obscurity (think American Idol or The Voice). One thing that the Biblical narrative does is focus in on people who are usually forgotten or unseen, and put them in a place where they can put on display what God’s grace has done for them. It’s not everyone’s story, but it is for a lot of characters.
Mary is one such person. We’ll be reading about her encounter with the angel Gabriel as he brings the annunciation of Christ’s birth this Sunday, reading Luke 1:26-38.
Our main focus will be on Mary – and specifically, what the text leaves out. What I mean is: based on what she is called to be and do in that time and culture is profound. Imagine an honor/shame culture’s expectations concerning fidelity to betrothal vows and moral purity. Imagine trying to explain to people that a pregnancy has happened but not by the normal process. Imagine how normal, reasonably intelligent people would respond to that and what that might mean to her safety, let alone her reputation.
I think it’s very important that we not sentimentalize nor idealize Mary’s commission and her answer to this calling. Luke is providing a glimpse concerning the nature of God’s work in the gospel and what it means to and for us. There are a lot of challenges inherent in Gabriel’s commission of Mary – and much for us to learn from it as disciples who follow in her footsteps of faith.
Hope you can join us this Sunday, online or in person. If in person, please wear a mask so that we can do our part to minimize the risk to others during these demanding times.
Also – if you want a good primer on the Gospel of Luke as we go through it, you should check out The Bible Project’s videos on it. I cannot recommend them highly enough. You can find them here: The Bible Project, Luke / Acts series