Read Luke 1:39-56
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
In a quick internet search of the phrase, “hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror,” I discovered that it was applied to everything from wartime to poker, and aviation to stock market investing. I’m not certain we can all identify with such radical pendulum swings in life. But following Mary’s encounter with the angel and her visit with Elizabeth, Luke tells us that Mary went back home.
This reminds me of a quote in Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. He says of Mary,
“See how purely she leaves all to God, and claims for herself no works, honor, or reputation. She behaves just as she did before any of this was hers–seeks no great honor, is not puffed up, vaunts not herself, calls out to no one that she is the mother of God, but goes into the house and acts just as before–milks cows, cooks, scrubs the kettles, and sweeps the house like any housemaid or housemother in the most menial tasks, as if none of these overwhelming gifts and graces where hers. Among the other women and neighbors she was esteemed no more highly than before and did not ask to be. She was still a poor townswoman among the lowliest. What a simple pure heart was hers! What an amazing person she was! What mightiness was hidden below her lowliness! (The Martin Luther Christmas Book, translated and arranged by Roland Bainton, p. 29-30)
Our embrace of God’s gift of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ for some is a remarkable and life-changing moment – a dramatic conversion to faith. For many, however, our faith was a gift the beginning of which we cannot recall. Whether through baptism as an infant, or through being raised in the culture and climate of a Christian family, faith is God’s gift that can easily lie dormant until tested. It might well be that we experience years of life with little challenge or testing of our faith. In those times, it is good for us simply to go about our daily calling: doing the next thing, carrying out our vocation as teacher, mother, employee, laborer, engineer, father, or manager.
There will come a time for Mary to be tested; more than one time really. She will have to travel to Bethlehem while she is “great with child,” and deliver her son in a stable and lay him in a feed trough. She will worry about her son’s wellbeing and even perhaps his sanity (cf. Mark 3:31-34). She will see him die.
Perhaps Mary will have more moments of pure terror than most people. But as she waits, she simply waits. She realizes that she is the Lord’s servant. And that is enough. That’s a thought I will bear in mind today. How about you?