Friday, December 21, 2012

Mary, Mother of God

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. -- Luke 2:6-7 (KJV)
Protestants have a short attention span for the "theotokos" doctrine.  Theotokos is the Greek title used for Jesus' mother, Mary.  It literally means God-bearer in Eastern/Greek Orthodoxy and Mother of God in Roman Catholicism/Anglicanism.  Mary is a powerful piece of the Jesus story.  The meaning of Christmas would be massively impaired without her faithfulness, her ability to adjust to a radical life departure, and her responsiveness to a new direction for her life that came flying in out of far left field.  How many of us would be able to get our heads around an angel appearing to us, let alone step away from our life plans and actually pursue the direction an angel handed us?  Most of us today confronted with such an event might instead conjure up the belief we were going schizophrenic and seek out medical help for the "hallucinations and voices."  Instead of  that Mary willingly became "God-bearer."  She bore the child, delivered the baby in the simplest unsupported means possible, wrapped the precious bundle in swaddling clothes and spent all the rest of her days supporting our Savior.  Like a million mothers out there Mary deserves respect for all the untold silent grieves she bore.

Yet, I do not think it is the borne grief of motherhood that makes Mary noteworthy, or that gives her the title Theotokos.  It is far more her receptivity and response to a faith event that she embraced almost without a thought, without a worry.  She wrapped the new baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and held Him safely to herself in the same way that I envision her often doing for me.  Life can be very hard -- painfully hard, and prayers and faith can go dry and feel empty.  "Is anyone out there listening?" we can wonder.  Our prayers sometimes look for an inn where they will be heard.  There are many times when no inn is found for them.  Yet, in a manger, in a stable/cave, in unlikely deserted corners Theotokos gathers up our "made in the image of God," and bears us, swaddles us, holds us safely and warmly to herself while we struggle with the sad silences and sharp emptiness.  Mary keeps us bound tightly, nursing us along until the thawing of our desolation.  That thawing DOES come because it is a promise from our Most High.

This Christmas remember Theotokos, Mary - God-bearer, Mother of God as she too awaits her deliverance from the curves life and faith throws.


Master of the Inn, hear our prayer.  In your great mercy accept our gratitude for Mary - her witness, her faithfulness, her courage, her presence with us even today.  Help her to hold us in safe places while You are working out the unseen details of our difficulties.  In Christ's name.  Amen.   

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