Faith seeking understanding #018: Standing in awe of Mary

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

My sketch for a rendering of the Magnificat, ca. 2007.

Mary, the mother of God, has been very much with me this advent season. I’ve tried to get excited about the Christ child, I’ve waited to see the king breaking forth into the world with all humility, I say I’m excited about the incarnation. But my attention has been focused on Mary and her revolutionary song: the Magnificat.

It’s not like I haven’t noticed Mary before: above is my sketch from 2007 for a rendering of the Magnificat.

Yet I am afraid to speak on Mary. I am afraid what I will have to say will be derivative. I think that Jonas Ellison in his post, “Hark, the herald Mary’s battle cry: The ‘Magnificat’” and D.L Mayfield in the Washington Post article “Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ in the Bible is revolutionary. Some evangelicals silence her” have said it better: Mary rocks and the church [almost] can’t handle it.

Maybe I can’t handle it. Can I handle all of the ramifications of the Spirit of the Eternal God impregnating a young woman? Maybe not. I can’t even handle all of the ramifications of what comes out of her mouth when she decides she is going to take part in the process of remaking the world, not only as she knows it, but as we all know it.

She sounds like a radical! She sounds like a revolutionary! She sounds like a socialist!

And that challenges me. It challenges my comfortable, bourgeois life near the top of the food chain in the most powerful and prosperous country the world has ever known. I’m supposed to give all that up? For what? To become like a baby? Helpless and vulnerable and marginal to temporal power as I have known it.

I think this is exactly the call. And it scares me. It should scare me.

Because I cannot presume to be one of the downtrodden, the poor, the ones who have nothing. I have been allied with power and Empire and the religious establishment and have ignored the concerns of the truly poor and the needy and the lonely.

But Mary offers me a chance to do better.

Much as the Beatitudes her son will reveal in a few, short decades, Mary is giving us a clear vision of the world as it will be in the kingdom of God. And, in the hearing, we are offered a choice: will we get with the program or will we align ourselves with the doomed forces of this world who would try to thwart the kingdom’s coming?

Lucky for me, for us, the power to conceive, to birth this kingdom into being does not rest on our frail flesh alone. Thought our flesh is needed, necessary for the remaking of the world, we can count on the Holy Spirit who is willing to overshadow us, take us over and use us as instruments of God’s peace.

We can count on the power of God the Almighty generative force who has crafted our vessels for this task.

And we can count on the Christ, whose eternal vision is meant to sweep us along into that realm where all is changed, and all is new.

I remain humbled by Mary. I have a long way to go before I have an ounce of her courage, her conviction, her willingness to allow the world to be set right.

But, in this humility, I find myself in the place I ought to be: helpless, vulnerable and mindful of my need of forces larger than myself to entice, encourage and empower me to do the right thing. And my need of prophets like Mary to make me aware of not only what is possible, but what certainly is to come.

May my soul also magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoice in God my Savior!

Amen.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

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Faith seeking understanding #018: Standing in awe of Mary

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