Archives for posts with tag: Mary

Earlier this week Christine Sinclair was named Soccer Player of the Decade by Canada Soccer. “Christine Sinclair is a once-in-a-generation athlete that has been at the heart of Canadian sport for over 20 years, but what she accomplished in the past 10 years has changed the sport forever in our country,” Canada Soccer president Steven Reed said in a press release. “Christine is the Canada soccer player of the decade and unquestionably one of the greatest and most-loved athletes Canada has ever watched.”

The previous week Bianca Andreescu was voted as Canada’s top athlete in 2019. She won three international tournaments this year climaxed by defeating the immortal Serena Williams in both the Canadian and American Open. Who can forget the scene when the teenager was comforting the veteran when the latter had to concede due to injury? Andreescu is such a class act!

These are rare honours for women. There is no equality of the sexes when it comes to professional sports. Professional sports have been the domain of men. (This is part of the problem of silence pointed out in the first Advent post. Since coaches don’t have physical prowess like their players do, they use their harsh—sometimes abusive—words as a way to dominate. If Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 14 in the context of sports he would tell the men to be quiet. For that matter, even in the context of church today I think he would tell the men to be quiet because the principle of the text is about order, not about gender. Today it is men who cause disorder! But I digress…) All the major professional team sports leagues in North America involve only men. Women who do play professional team sports earn a fraction of the salaries that men do and get sparse media attention. In fact, all of human history has been dominated by men. It has been a man’s world. Only recently has there been a move toward a more egalitarian world.

But there was a foreshadowing of this change in the Christmas story. Mary gave birth to the Son of God without the help of a man. The other main character in the pre-Christmas drama was her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary received the news of her child she sang the poetry of her female ancestor Hannah (See Luke 1:46-55 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10). What a ground leveling prophetic word! It started to happen in the life of Jesus. Although the male disciples get most of the press, Jesus did have female disciples (Luke 8:1-3). Throughout Jesus’ life he healed, advocated for, and gave dignity to women (Mark 5:21-43; Luke 7:36-50; John 8:1-11). Once, he commended a foreign woman for her courageous faith when she pointed out his racism and sexism (Matthew 15:21-28). At the end of his life when men wanted to kill him and his male disciples deserted him, it was women who stayed loyal and accompanied him in his suffering and death. The resurrection was a surprise but by now it is not surprising that it was women who first encountered the risen Christ and spread the news.

Mary’s Magnificent Protest Song

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.—Luke 1:52

Read: Luke 1:46-55

Reflect: Is the message of Advent becoming clear by now? God’s coming to Earth is about a reversal of status and values. Mary’s song in response to the angel’s announcement continues this theme. Hannah and Mary may seem unlikely singers to be raging against the machine of empirical power, but that is the whole point! God often speaks through the unlikely.

Just as “pride goes before a fall” so the small will be lifted tall. Tommy Douglas was a man of small stature, a small-town Baptist pastor on the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression, yet a few years ago he was voted as the “Greatest Canadian” in a television poll. He once said, “Watch out for the little fellow with an idea.” His idea was that all people, regardless of their wealth or status, should be entitled to equal health care. He left the pastorate and went into politics, working tirelessly for the rights of the poor and marginalized and becoming known as the father of universal health care in Canada.

Mary was the little girl with an idea who, in our text, speaks just as forcefully as any preacher or politician. Did she have an inkling of who her child would become and what he would do? Her protest song is a collage of poetry from the Psalms and prophets and sounds very much like Hannah’s song from generations earlier. Mary’s son Jesus, born in a cave many miles from home, would become the Savior of the world and the Great Leader who would inaugurate the reign of God. How do we respond this advent season?

Respond: My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.—Luke 1:46-47

I’m finishing off my Sabbath year of mostly reposted blogs with some Advent devotions I wrote for REJOICE! Devotional Magazine some years ago. They are kept in the same style: key verse, the larger Scripture reading, a reflection on the Scripture, a response. With the last Sunday of Advent being the 24th of December, Advent is a bit short this year so I’m starting early. I hope they help you to reflect on the unexpected and “upside-down” nature of the coming of Jesus into our world.

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.—Luke 1:38

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Reflect: The Beatles recognized Mary’s words of wisdom when they sang, “Let it be”. I don’t think it was accidental that God chose a teenage peasant girl to bear salvation to the world, as the unconditional trust of the young is an example for all of us.

The story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to tell her she will bear God’s Son is the central story of the Advent season, and what a story it is! It begins with an affirmation from the angel: “The Lord is with you” (v.28), which perplexes Mary even before the angel tells her the astounding news of her immaculate conception. Mary rightfully wonders, “How can this be?” (v.34). I have a feeling the tone of her question is very different from Zechariah’s doubtful “How will I know?” in the previous scene (v.18). Mary’s trusting “let it be” changes her world forever and, through her, the history of the world in which she lives.

It is good for us to marvel every year at this story: to ask, how does this story speak to us today? What do Mary’s words of wisdom mean for us? I like how Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster put it in their book, The Godbearing Life: “While the coming of Jesus Christ in a virgin’s womb is the unrepeatable mystery of God, God invites all of us to become Godbearers—persons who by the power of the Holy Spirit smuggle Jesus into the world through our own lives, who by virtue of our yes to God find ourselves forever and irrevocably changed.”

Respond: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.—Luke 1:38