December 16, 2011

Dec. 16: Learning from Mary’s strength and patience

Jessica_Gotwals

Jessica Gotwals, a junior nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
I can’t imagine what Mary would have felt when she received Gabriel’s message that she would be the mother of Jesus. Mary found herself in circumstances she could not explain. The social ramifications of her pregnancy were daunting, and she must have experienced moments of fear and uncertainty. Part of me likes to think that Mary didn’t accept Gabriel’s message as easily as Luke portrays — that she tried to rationalize with Gabriel, or was even angry with God.

What is so striking about Mary in this story is the way she responded to her situation. Mary chose to glorify God for the gift of a child. Mary is often depicted as being one-dimensional – she is quiet, meek, and acquiescent. However, I think she is a powerful character that warrants our attention; I prefer to think that Mary’s serene responses to Gabriel indicate deep strength rather than mere submission.

Mary is a powerful example of faith. Often, like Mary, we find ourselves in circumstances we did not choose. As Christians our powerful witness to the world lies in how we choose to react to situations. This posture of grace, perseverance and joy in the face of difficulty does not come easily — it comes from unwavering faith in God, and it must be practiced.

Mary is also an example of patience. Advent is a time of waiting as we anticipate the coming of Christ. Mary, perhaps more than anyone, knows what it means to wait, as she spent nine months anticipating the birth of Jesus. Like Mary, we wait for clarity in our difficult situations and anticipate the hope and joy that Jesus brings to our lives.

Peace to you as you wait.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31; You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

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Comments (16)

  1. I like your reflection – Mary was quite a woman! I think another time she shows her strength is that she “stands” at the foot of the cross.

    Sr. Karen Flaherty December 16, 2011 |
  2. Thank you Jessica! Your perspective on Mary is interesting and enlightening. It is also beautifully written. Thank you again, Chris

    Chris Baker December 16, 2011 |
  3. Thank-you Jessica! I appreciate how you reminds us to show grace, perseverance and even joy in difficult situations!

    Vicky Kirkton December 16, 2011 |
  4. Thank you for your words Jess! Nicely done.

    Brenda Shelly December 16, 2011 |
  5. You captured Mary’s strength and faith, Jessica. Blessings during this Holy Time.

    Ruth Yoder December 16, 2011 |
  6. I agree, Jess. Mary is a powerful woman! Thanks.

    Firman Gingerich December 16, 2011 |
  7. Thank you, Jessica. Mary is powerful because of God’s faith in her. And, can you imagine? She is our own dearest mother.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet December 16, 2011 |
  8. Beautifully written! Your understanding of Mary’s character is insightful and inspiring.

    Theresa Garbe December 16, 2011 |
  9. What lovely insight you have brought into this passage of the Annunciation! I think, too, that Mary’s response
    may show evidence of hidden strength. I like the way you related that to our own lives and challenged us.
    Blessings to you this Christmas season!

    Loretta Yoder Ostojic December 16, 2011 |
  10. I love your unique take on Mary. Before, I had never considered how we view Mary as submissive and meek, when really she showed amazing strength in responding with such faith to God’s call. And to think that she was probably a teenager makes it even more impressive.

    Elizabeth S.O. December 16, 2011 |
  11. You have communicated your thoughts with excellence! Thanks for giving to me new and deeper insight into the young woman Mary was, also how her response can apply to how I respond to challenges. Blessings to you this Christmas, Margie Keiser

    Margie Keiser December 16, 2011 |
  12. I appreciated your insights on Mary. I wonder if we have too long underestimated her role in the salvation story. Thank you for sharing these words.

    Martha Helmuth December 16, 2011 |
  13. Jessica Gotwals’ message was PERFECT for me. Thank you.

    Mary Mendenhall December 16, 2011 |
  14. Thank you, Jessica. Your beautiful words and thoughts inspire and strike home. I believe Mary’s strength, faith and humanity is also shown at the Marriage Feast of Cana and her leadership in a house church.

    marjorie December 16, 2011 |
  15. Thank you for your insights into Mary, they speak to my soul. She was an incredible woman of faith, God’s chosen one.

    Lorene December 16, 2011 |
  16. What courage it must have taken. Mary was a scholar, an expert at study of the scriptures. What courage to learn she was to become a key part of them.

    Marianne December 16, 2011 |