Advent: A Great Man and Two Humble Women

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I love Luke’s “orderly account” of what has been accomplished by Yahweh in the first advent of Christ.

We remember the true tale of how the angel Gabriel came to two people (in Luke’s account), one was a priest and the other a virgin.

The priest’s wife, Elizabeth, and Mary both get a lot of time in the early part of Luke.

Both are women whose station in life is in relationship to their husbands (or, in Mary’s case, her betrothed). One woman’s husband has a “secular” career, the other a religious one.  Both have a humble calling, a vocation for the lowly of spirit.

Elizabeth might have had some status as the wife of a priest, but she describes herself as having a reproach upon her from her people (because she was barren).

Mary would have likely had almost no status at all on her own.

So who are these women in the economy of the world (especially today)? Nobodies.

Both women are blessed by God in a miraculous way by miraculous pregnancies and births. Both women became catalysts for the greatest event in the history of mankind.

It was not to, or through, Herod the Great that such things were accomplished. It was in spite of him. He was a mighty, important, powerful man who ruled the land. He was a man of intelligence, strength, and creativity. He was, perhaps, a genius. Let’s contrast this great man of his time with two Jewish women.

Elizabeth and Mary were humble-hearted believers.

What does Elizabeth say of Mary in vs. 45? How does Mary respond to truth that is good beyond measure?

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

What profound humility. What submission. What simple, astonishing beauty.

Do not believe the horrendous, and popular, lie that “History Doesn’t Remember Obedient Women.”

“From now on all generations will call me blessed,” sings humble Mary (in a Gospel-drenched, deeply theological, and lovely song).

She believes.

Mary hears…and believes.

What is our calling? It is the same as Mary’s in that way. We must hear, and having heard: believe.

Hear and believe.

This requires a humble heart, because it is the abandonment of whatever status we have held on to as a coin to buy God’s favor.

It is a filing for bankruptcy.

It is a kneeling surrender of our sword and our rank.

It is, as a wise man said, a “glorious defeat.”

In Christ’s advent we celebrate the happy end of our pretended reign.

There is no room for Herod the Great -clinging to his murderous self-interest.

Let us look instead to believing Mary, and Elizabeth –two beautiful, humble children of God– and let us imitate their faith.

Hear –and believe.


1 Comment

  1. barb

    Oh, how we need to be reminded of our unworthiness. The most memorable moment this Advent season was yesterday when our congregation was invited to “be” the offering, not placing an envelope or currency in a plate, but walking to the altar to that kneeling surrender you describe! How liberating! How exhilarating! This, then, is where faith takes shape in us.

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