Categories
christmas Mary

Mary

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

I was pondering a piece by Ordinary Pilgrim this morning around Mary and icons from from Medieval European female monasteries that open up to show Mary with anything from just Jesus to the whole Trinity growing within her

Externally, she is portrayed as a simple mother; on the inside she hosts the mysteries of heaven. 

https://www.ordinarypilgrim.co.uk/blog

So I got to letting my thoughts flow through my pen and what struck me is how we have turned this simple, ordinary teenage girl into something super human; have taken something that could have happened to anyone who was willing into an hierarchical structure with, depending on denomination, either priests and vicars, or with pastors and a pastoral team.

Mary was so amazingly ordinary and yet too often people are not allowed to believe this could happen to them. Or have to take it through a leader of some sort – whether vicar or church pastor or whatever the denomination calls those who stand at the front.

The amazingness, for me, of the Incarnation is that it came to an ordinary young woman in an ordinary town. I’ve often wondered if Mary was the first person the angel came to or whether there were others who said No? It is Mary’s willingness that is amazing. But also each of us can grow something of God within us and take it out into the world. We don’t have to be gifted orators, or want to win everyone over to be a signed up follower of Christ. But each of us can willingly say “I have God living within me and I can take that wherever I go”.

I wonder if the line “your kingdom come, your will be done“, which too often we prayer much too quickly but also see as for something bigger, actually is “let that little seed of you, God, that is growing in me come to fruition today”.

So as I pondered what is being birthed in me this season I also prayed for all who profess a faith in Jesus, and even those who don’t, that they would allow what God has within them grown to be something as amazing as Mary allowed.

Jesus does say we will go on to do more amazing things than he did. Maybe, just maybe, that is allowing God’s incarnation in each of us to grow unhindered into all it is meant to be. Not held back by the culture of our churches, our church leaders, our families, our own hearts that can’t believe God would do that with us. And I also prayed for all church leaders of whatever denomination, whatever stream, that they would not get caught up in the machinations of leading their congregations and be able to let the seed of God that is within them grow into whatever it is God wants it to be.

Mary did not know what Jesus would be like when she said Yes to God’s proposal. She did not know what would come next. In fact she did not even know is she would live through the birth of this child – death in childbirth was very common up until very recently. But she said yes. Am I willing to say yes to this seed that God has inside of me whatever happens to me? Are you?

Categories
christmas Joseph

Joseph

Photo by JINU JOSEPH on Pexels.com

As I have said before, Joseph is one of my favourite unsung heroes of the Christmas story. He never says a word. He questions, wants to follow the law 100% – what with Mary being pregnant and all that. As a lawful man he should have had her stoned to death. Funny things laws at times, but that is probably for another post entirely around women’s rights, etc.

The other day I was reading through the Genealogies in Matthew 1:1-17, encouraged by the Red Letter Christians advent calendar. Now this is Joseph’s genealogy because the prophets said that the Messiah would come through the line of David and that was Joseph’s line, hence why Joseph took the pregnant Mary with him to register for the census in Bethlehem, the town of David. So again I am struck by how important it is to God that Joseph is included in the story of Jesus. In the first two chapters of Matthew Joseph is actually the lead protagonist of the tale. It is his actions that keep the story moving and keep Jesus from being killed – first by potential stoning of Mary and then by Herod’s massacre of the baby boys.

The prompt was “which name stands out?” Now I was surprised that it was Jehoiachin [read more about him and his demise in 2 Kings 24:14-15 and 2 Chronicles 36:10]. He is the last king of Judah who gets taken away to captivity in Babylon. Though he does also get treated well by the son of his capture. So Joseph is from a line of kings and there is that royal connection. It makes me wonder how he felt about that. Proud? Disillusioned? Ignored it?

In the UK we have a tradition of royal households being dispossessed by other royal household. And countries like France and Russia have lost their royal households due to revolutions. Once in the UK there was a DNA investigation that found someone who allegedly had more of a claim to the British throne through an older royal household than the present royal family, who were actually invited in by the British government because they didn’t want a Catholic on the throne back in the 18th century.

So here is Joseph of this royal household that was dispossessed by an oppressive regime but who still knows his lineage .

But also back in the First book of Samuel God uses Samuel to tell the people that having a king isn’t a good idea and that they won’t be happy with it. If they just followed God they would have freedom but a king would expect things of them; tithes, to be his army and fight for him, to work in his household, etc.

Now here’s the twist for me – God says that having a king isn’t a good idea then brings in the saviour of not just the Jews but of the whole world through a lineage that God said was not a good plan. Now that is an interesting plot twist. I find this whole thing fascinating and I think it gives great hope to all of us.

We too often do what we really shouldn’t do. It is not like it is a bad thing but it isn’t God’s best for our lives. Often we can feel, and be made to feel, that we’ve missed it and so we don’t see the restoration, the redemption, the way we could be part of something so much more than just us and our little clique.

I’d like to think that once Joseph got his head round that idea that him, a descendant of the royal house of Judah, was now going to be the link between that and Jesus’s kingship over the whole world that he had this huge smile on his face. I wonder if that was why he was able to leave his reputation, his job, his town, and not just go to Bethlehem but then go on to Egypt, to be part of making sure God’s plan came to fruition. And that he was willing not to need to be in the foreground. He could take an active part in Jesus’s early upbringing but be willing take a back seat in the Christmas story.

As I stay pondering this I hope that I am willing to take a back seat and not have to hog the limelight when God allows me to be part of sometimes in the lives of those around me. To not expect that I will get my recognition, my five minutes of fame, but that I will be ready and willing to do as I am being asked by the Creator of the Universe and just let it be.

That is my hope for me through this Advent season and into the unknowing of what 2023 beings.