Give it Up for All the Ordinary People!
It is Advent once again, and each year during the beginning of this season my thoughts often turn to the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
But it wasn't always this way.
Most of my church-y life has been spent almost entirely within the Protestant/Reformed wing of the Church (capital "C"), which has some disadvantages.
One of those disadvantages is the lack of emphasis that Protestants have historically placed on the role of Mary in God's great big story of redemption.
However, I do feel as though this has changed in recent years--a change I wholeheartedly welcome.
You see, Mary represents us in the Advent stories. God comes to her with a call to something extraordinary. She is given the opportunity to be the very vessel within which the Messiah comes into the world.
And with that, comes a choice. Mary is invited to embrace the call, or to reject it. She is invited to believe the truth about herself at last, a truth that is revealed to her by God, but one that she has known in her heart of hearts all along.
Mary is troubled by the news that she will be the God-bearer. It both thrills and terrifies her because she knows the impact this news will have on the people in her life... and on the world.
She feels too small... too ordinary for the task. Just as we often do.
But Mary embraces her smallness and steps into her calling with the kind of courage that is a by-product of true freedom---the kind of freedom that enables us to be the people God dreams for us to be.
Fr. Richard Rohr wrote about this very thing, and I'd love to share it here:
It is a gift to joyfully recognize your own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect.Perhaps you feel too small and ordinary to be used by God to bring God to the world. Maybe you believe that there is no way that you could ever be able to say to God as Mary did: "I am the Lord's servant, may your word to me be fulfilled."
You are small. You are ordinary. Embrace your smallness. Know that God delights in small beginnings. Believe that God rejoices when ordinary people see their extraordinary worth and purpose.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.