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Mary, the Mother of Jesus

By The Rev. Ross Putnam

Ross  PutnamLuke 2:36  “There was also a prophet named Anna . . .  At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

This article is about resolutions.  It seems fitting, given the time of year.  But it is more than another piece about how hard it is to keep the ideals we put out there at the turn of the year.  This is, rather, about Mary, the mother of Jesus.

There is something intriguing about her story, especially given how little we know about her.  The good news is that in the face of so few facts about her, we can speculate.  And it is worth filling in the blanks imaginatively because there is much to learn from this woman.

First, about resolutions.  We all make them, all the time.  We resolve to lose weight every time we eat another candy bar.  We resolve not to raise our voice each time we yell at the driver next to us.  We resolve to be a better example for our children whenever (in the case of my generation) we are reminded about the chasm between our idealistic “hippie” college days and the compromises we’ve made as we soak up the material goods of the earth today.Mary mother of Jesus

You get the point.  Resolutions are like rest stops on a hike.  We pause to consider where we are headed and make course adjustments – or not.

Which leads us to Mary’s resolution.  Really, it is resolutions, I think.

She resolved, one day, to allow God to use her in a special, unique way.  Right?  “I am the handmaiden of God.”  And somehow she stayed the course.  We should all be so faithful.  “Hail, Mary, full of grace…”

But, I say with precious little evidence to back it up, there was more – much more – to it than that.  And part of the more is making Mary more human.  Understanding there is more to responding to God and more to resolutions of all sorts, than one moment of decision.

My theory – my speculation – is first that Mary was the least likely candidate.  Everything was against her.  She was (apparently) young.  She was certainly not a mover and shaker.  She came from a backwater, small town.

Right away the first point is a reminder.  God works through (as Mary’s son put it later) “the least of these.”  Keep that in mind.

Of greater consequence, I say as I fill in the blanks of biblical information, Mary being the mother of Jesus was as much about her reaching out as it was God reaching to her.  It was her attentiveness to Spirit moving in and around her.  It was her resolving/deciding to actually be that handmaiden.  Point one.

Point two.  It took a long time for her to come to this.  I think from a very young age she had dreams, ideas, encounters and premonitions about faith, life, God and her desires (as we all do) which she (and here’s the difference) kept track of.  It was somehow more than journaling and less than sitting in a convent or going on a vision quest.  Again, the point is this seeking after God’s will for and action in her life was something she cultivated for her whole life.  One resolution upon the next.

This does not mean that if we “put our ear to the rail” and pay better attention, we will be as central a figure as Mary.  It is a suggestion that if we trust God and each other and truly give up everything for God’s cause, our paths, lives and the world will be better for it.

Simple, really.  And not.  As my generation has found, holding onto the principles of “back in the day,” is anything but easy.  So whatever your generation, whatever its promises, dreams and struggles, know this.  Mary became the mother of Jesus after a great deal of inner reflection, and a lot of resolutions.  Let us keep her practice.  After all, God is still speaking and has much to tell us.  And God is still listening and will hear whatever hope or struggle we have.

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