What is your picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Do you envision a young girl, riddled with fear, bearing the load of a child that would bring redemption to a fallen, hopeless world?
Do you picture a young girl fierce with determination and strength, willing to follow her husband on a 100 mile journey to deliver a baby into a bed a straw and be greeted by strangers who were shepherds and smelled of the fields they lived and worked in?
Maybe your picture of her is somewhere in between.
On this Sunday before Christmas, the advent candle has been lit and the story of love is beginning to crescendo as the tiny babe wrapped in swaddling clothes will once again be laid into a manger and once again remind us that on that silent night, hope was born.
As I have reflected on this, I began to wonder about Mary from a different perspective this past week.
What was Mary’s own mother like?
Surely this woman, of whom we have absolutely no Biblical information was as important to the Christmas story as all of the other characters. Yet, we find nothing mentioned of the earthly grandmother of Jesus Christ.
But here is what I find interesting. That woman wasn’t important because she was Jesus’ grandmother. Oh for sure, she has significance in this way.
Rather, she is important because of what she did and not necessarily who she was. How she lived her quiet life in the land of Nazareth and more importantly, how she raised her daughter.
Mary, when approached by the angel Gabriel, was surprised. But as you read this portion of Luke, her words imply something deeper and more precious that give us a hint about her own mother.
“How will this be…?” (Luke 1:34, NIV)
Somewhere in Mary’s past, she had been taught that God can be believed. She was taught that God was to be feared and respected and that there was a place for Him in all that we say and do. Her willingness to be obedient, to ask, to listen, and to ultimately act all point to the values and character qualities that people in her life must have poured into her at a very young age.
I love to think about that way Mary’s mother must have jumped with joy at the news about her daughter. How her excited exclaimations must have told all her friends in the days to follow about what God was doing in her little girl’s life. I am sure there would have been woman who would have been critical and raised their eyebrows in question. But Mary’s mother, no doubt, had friends that believed in God and would stand with her in anticipation of what the angel had told Mary.
I also am sobered to think about the feelings this mother must have had as she said goodbye to her pregnant daughter and watched her walk away with her husband toward a place that she surely knew would be where her grandson would be delivered. How she and Mary must have clung to one another and then looked at each other through tear stained faces and said
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation” (Luke 2:50, NIV)
Then that mama, with her heart so full of bitter sweetness, said goodbye to her daughter and let the Lord be in charge.
This Christmas, as we reflect on Jesus, let’s worship Him for the legacy of love He brings to each of us. Somewhere in each of our lives, there is someone who has taken the time to love us and show us what is right and good and true.
Someone who helps us find our way in the darkest of nights and who quietly sits in the shadows and prays for us.
I want to believe that Mary’s mother was one of these woman.
I want to be one of these woman.
The grandmother of Jesus Christ was part of the legacy of love and light that encircles each of us this season.
Merry Christmas to each of you!!!