Can’t Have One Without the Other

A sermon on Luke 1: 26-38 & 46-55

So there’s a traditional vision of Mary, the Mother of Jesus in the world.  She was gentle and meek and mild.  She didn’t raise her voice or question authority.  She was demure and knew her place in the world – a lower, humble place.  She was the epitome of peaceful countenances all over in statues across Europe.

I’m not sure where in the Bible the church fathers found this Mary, except that they couldn’t see beyond their own patriarchy.  There’s an angel in this young woman’s living room and she’s talking back – “How can this be?  I think you’ve missed something here!” No shrinking flower this one. 

Can’t you imagine her nagging Joseph all the way to Bethlehem “What do you mean you didn’t make a reservation?”  Not to mention when she finds 12 year old Jesus in the temple; taking him to task in front of all those church leaders.  Or when Jesus is at the wedding at Cana years later and she boldly asks him to just do me this one little favor and turn the water into wine.  One of my colleagues was asking on FB this week, how can I say Mary was a “bad…” from the pulpit – I mean I can’t say it either, so we’ll go with my favorite suggestion “a force to be reckoned with.”

There is no place this is more clear than in her response to her cousin Elizabeth, when Elizabeth finally acknowledges what the angel has said all along: You are carrying the Messiah.

You bet I am and the world is going to be turned upside down because of this child.

He has brought down the proud – note present tense not future – it is already happening for her – he has brought down the proud, torn tyrants from their thrones, lifted the lowly, fed the hungry and turned away those who have gorged in their greediness.  She sees a world of God’s justice – and this is what gives her strength to do the most impossible job – to mother the creator of the universe, to watch him grow, be misunderstood and eventually crucified.  She sees this world through the darkness of her own experience and she rejoices: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Mary manages to capture this amazing quality of peaceful faith in God’s promise – but not a submissive peace – one that knows that true peace cannot exist in the absence of justice. The two are so intertwined in God’s kingdom that you simply cannot have one without the other. 

To watch the full sermon, click here.