Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
This past month, in Bible study, we read the book Blessed is She: Living Lent with Mary by Tim Perry. In this book, the author invited us to spend our Lenten journey reflecting on Jesus’ life through the lens of his mother, Mary. In particular, we looked at how the Gospel writer, Luke, presented Mary. For many of us it, was a new way of understanding Mary beyond being the mother who bore Jesus that we celebrate during Advent and Christmas. As Lutherans, we certainly are not comfortable with, nor do we revere, Mary. We acknowledge her role in bearing the begotten son of God and then, for many, she returns to obscurity…regulated to the role of many women…taking care of the other children. Thus, this book challenged us to see Mary in the many facets of who she was – a mother, a woman living during a time of male dominance, bearing a child in unusual circumstance, a refugee, and a parent who experienced challenges in raising a child who would also become her Savior. Perhaps one of the most difficult roles as mother that she faced was watching her son die. Of all the many roles we talked about, the one that caught my attention was her role as servant of God.
Luke writes that Mary, upon learning from the angel Gabriel that she would bear the Son of God, responded “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Those words are so full of trust in a future she did not fully understand. She was accepting in faith, trusting that if God deemed her favored to bear God’s son, that the God of her ancestors would also see her through. What she had to rely on was the teachings of her ancestors and the consistency in which God cares for God’s people. God would be with her. And so, in the wake of a very unusual announcement that she was going to bear a child, Mary relied not on what her eyes, ears or even her circumstances dictated to her. Instead, she trusted in the God that she grew up knowing and following. What a journey she would embark on. Mary learned, as the songwriter says, to “hold to God’s unchanging hands” to comfort and protect her.
In this month, we celebrate mothers: All those women who have been blessed to bear a child or care for a child. So often, we think of motherhood from the lens of giving birth - but the role of mothering takes on many forms. From Mary’s story, we certainly have learned that it is not an easy role. This month, we also carry the burden of all the mothers who have lost their children – to the disease of COVID, to violence, to drug addiction, to mental illness, to still births, to miscarriages and other birth defects. We hold, in care, the women who prayed for and were unable to bear a child or for whom that prayer was answered differently than they prayed. Like Mary, there are many mothers who are lamenting, as well as rejoicing. Let us be ever mindful to care for all the mothers in our midst. As Mary did, may we turn to God as the comforter of our pain and the giver of our joy. Blessed Mother’s Day!
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773