by Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing
During the month of December as Christmas day draws closer, we can easily find ourselves swept up in the whirl of buying presents, organising parties, decorating the house, preparing food and spending money. Christmas is coming and we don’t feel ready.
But since the earliest days of the faith, Christians all over the world have purposefully taken time before Christmas to focus on the meaning of the coming of Jesus into our world as crucial, spiritual, preparation. This is what Advent is about. Advent is a word that comes from Latin and it means “coming” or “arrival”. God has arrived in our world through the birth of Jesus.
I’ve been thinking a lot in the advent season this year that there’s someone who is absolutely central to the coming of God into the world that we kind of see, but we don’t really hear, and it’s Mary; her voice, her wisdom, her theological insight, her praise, her reaction to the events. All of this is recorded for us. God purposefully positioned a young woman with a front-row seat for his coming into this world in Jesus. I feel we’ve got a lot to learn from Mary’s voice.
I don’t know if you know that traditionally Luke’s gospel has been held to draw heavily on Mary’s perspective. She’s the primary source of his information. And that’s why Luke is able to give us such an intimate account of how the birth of Jesus came to be in his gospel. Mary’s voice and perspective has been preserved for us.
Imagine being a young woman – no more than a teenager - in a poor, forgotten, occupied corner of a world empire.
That is who Mary was.
And Mary is the one who God chose to be the mother of Jesus.
Mary is the one who got to be the fulfilment of the promise to Eve that her seed – a woman’s seed - would crush the serpent’s head. (Gen 3:15)
Mary is the one who got to witness the fulfilment of the promise to Isaiah
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
An ordinary, young, poor, oppressed woman gets to play a significant, breakthrough role in the redemption of the world. Evil will be crushed and defeated through her seed. Her body will play a part in showing the world that Jesus really is Immanuel – God with us.
This tells us something really powerful about our God. By positioning Mary in this way God shows us what kind of person is a gospel witness, teacher and example. It is no mistake that a woman gets to be a part of his plans, and that her voice, her questions, her fears, her actions and her obedience matter.
When Mary is told that she will bear this child she asks a reasonable question – “how can this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)
Mary is a real person – a person with a voice and an understanding of human biology and a person with questions and fears.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Mary’s response is breathtaking: “I am the Lord’s servant may your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38)
This is how God works in our world. The power of the Holy Spirit and the obedience and faith of ordinary people.
In this advent season let’s be encouraged by the simple but astonishing faith of a young woman. Why not meditate on Mary’s response, on her humility and her willingness to participate in God’s plan. Think about the truth that nothing is impossible with God.
“May it be to me as you have said.” Thank you Father, for Mary’s faithfulness and willingness to be the mother of Jesus. Thank you for her example to us of Christian obedience. Help me to be faithful to you in every arena of my life – intellectually, vocationally, with my finances, my family, my body and my whole heart. I am your servant Lord – may your word to me be fulfilled today.”
For Jesus’ sake,
Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing is an international author, speaker and theologian who addresses the deep questions of our day with meaningful answers found in the Christian Faith. Amy is the author of multiple books including Where is God in All the Suffering? and bestselling, Why Trust The Bible? She is a Senior Fellow at OCCA, The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and co-leads a church community called Latimer Minster with her husband. Her website is www.amyorr-ewing.com.