What about Mary?
This weekend I was in Oxford to read the 6th lesson in an Advent Lessons & Carols service for the Oxford branch of the Prayer Book Society. The text that I read is one that touches me deeply, as a woman and as a mother. The verses from Luke, chapter 1, describe the moment that Mary, espoused and yet still a virgin, is told by the angel Gabriel that she will bear the son of God. Take a moment to ponder that thought. How would any of us react to such a mighty proclamation? Denial? Doubt? Fear?
As the passage continues, we learn that Mary accepts her fate. With grace and humility she acknowledges her purpose: 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.'
What do we do when we are given a seemingly insurmountable challenge? Do we acknowledge and accept the full responsibility of the task? Or do we try to pass it off; hide from it; find someone else to fill in; remain in our narrow comfort zones.
What if we were to behave more like Mary? What if we stepped into our challenges with a mindset of trust and love? This season brings with it challenges of all kinds. The dysfunction of the family dynamic is ever present as we gather to celebrate the holidays. Arguments involving politics are bound to creep into our relationships. The pressure to do just one more task, buy one more gift, create as perfect a world as possible to show that everything is really great in our lives, when in reality it is not. Instead, why not put down the task lists. Create healthy expectations. Open our hearts to all the imperfections we experience in ourselves and in our relationships. Embrace one another with kindness and support in times of trouble and discord.
We can all learn from Mary. She took on an enormous responsibility. Blindly. Without question. Without hesitation. If we turn our negative thoughts from fear of what could happen, to acceptance and trust that we are in control of how we handle change, with confidence we can quiet our anxieties. We, too, can experience a touch of Mary's grace. Imagine what that world would feel like. Speak no evil; agree to disagree. This holiday season let us do more to learn from one another; help one another; love one another.