What must it have been like to be Mary? 

Her life got turned upside-down when an angel told her that she was going to give birth to God’s son.  It almost ended her marriage.  It must have strained relationships with family, friends, and neighbors – after all, who would believe such a wild story? 

And, then, she has this child, and soon after he’s born, she and her husband take him to the temple – to dedicate him to God – and a prophet shows up.  This prophet, Simeon, has been waiting his whole life to see God’s promised savior.  And, when Simeon lays eyes on Jesus, he knows that this little child is the one – the one who will set God’s people free.  And, so, he glorifies God and proclaims that Jesus will grow up to do God’s work.  In the midst of his prophecy, Simeon tells Mary that “a sword will pierce your heart also.” 

“A sword will pierce your own heart also.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I can tell you this: being the mother of Jesus must have been a complicated experience.  From the beginning, she knows that her son is special – set apart for God’s holy work.  Her experience – angels visiting, singing his praises – must have proven to her that God is at work in this child of hers.  And, in the words we are reading in worship this Sunday (Luke 1:46-55) she makes it clear that she understands the difference he will make – she knows that her son will challenge the powerful, lift up the lowly, set the captive free, and transform the world. 

Her son is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the hope that Mary and her people had been waiting for – counting on – for generations.  She must’ve celebrated all of that.  And, yet, his life will not be easy – he is rejected, persecuted, arrested, beaten, and crucified.  As Mary followed her son’s progress throughout his life, she must have begun to worry for his safety.  She must have wondered when that sword would show up to pierce her heart.   

We know that Mary was one of Jesus’ earliest disciples.  In the book of Acts, we read that she was part of the early church – the woman who gave birth to Jesus became one of his early followers, part of the community defined by his death and resurrection.  What must have it been like to be part of a community that told and retold the story of her own son’s death – and to know that his death and resurrection brought life to the entire world?   

It was probably like having a sword pierce her heart.  And yet, Mary kept walking the road of faith.  She saw what God was doing – what God had done – in this child, this man, this Jesus – her own flesh and blood. 

What must have it been like to be Mary? I can’t imagine.  And, yet, she was faithful to the end.  May we learn to have faith like Mary, trusting that God can work resurrection even from the darkness of death. 

-Pastor Brian

Previous
Advent ’23 Entries

Advent23: December 24

A Musical Advent As the Communications Director for Haymarket Church, I get the opportunity to see and read all of the Advent (and also Lent) devotional entries before anyone else. Well, Pastor Brian receives some of them via email before I do … but you get the…

Advent23: December 23

“A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse;      a branch will sprout from his roots.  The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him,      a spirit of wisdom and understanding,      a spirit of planning and…

Advent23: December 21

Christmas Breakfast When I think of Christmas, I think of breakfast.  Since I was little, the most central element of my family’s Christmas celebration has been eating a big breakfast together on Christmas morning.  When I was young, it drove me crazy.  We’d come…

Advent23: December 20

Were there Hobbits at the Nativity?  It is no secret in the Bryden household that J.R.R. Tolkien (of the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillion fame) is my favorite author. While I am not an avid reader, I couldn’t put his books down once I started – with the…

Advent23: December 22

On Sunday in worship, our preacher, Rev. Shannon Hendricks, preached about the story of Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1:26-56).  In her sermon, she referenced a song called “The Canticle of the Turning.”  This song is a reinterpretation of the song Mary sings…

Advent23: December 19

The Rebel Jesus  One of my favorite Christmas songs is Jackson Browne’s “The Rebel Jesus.” It’s not quite a traditional song, but every year, when it’s time for us to start reading Chapter 1 of Luke, there’s something about this song that just – well, I think this…

Advent23: December 18

It was Thanksgiving Week of 1972 when I flew into National Airport to report to my first duty station, Ft. Meade, MD, after completing basic training. I had just turned 18 the previous May and was going to spend my Army stint as a trumpeter in the First US Army…

Advent23: December 16

Mary Did You Know? Thirty-plus years ago, my husband, daughter and I were living in Bonn, Germany; at the time Germany’s capital. Bill had been offered a position in Bonn by his employer and we both thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to live in Europe; and…

Advent23: December 15

Mary, Did You Know? Between my husband’s side and mine, we each have 2 siblings who each have at least two children. But while mine are all in Baltimore, Sean’s all live closer to us. We used to split the day of Christmas, Thanksgiving – and all other holidays that…

Advent23: December 14

Finding Home  “Are you going home for the holidays?”  This is a question that I hear many times.  It’s a friendly inquiry but it has taken me years to answer honestly.  I did used to go “home” to CA for the holidays.  When I was married, we…

Advent23: December 13

Where Is The Love? When I was in the last semester of my senior year of high school, I decided to take an online English class. At the time, this was a brand new option; it sounded exciting and easy to just do this class on my own at home on our family computer…

Advent23: December 12

The Sounds of Christmas (A Group entry by our High School Small Group) _______________ Every year on Christmas Eve, ever since I was little, I have watched the Trans-Siberian Orchestra movie with my dad. It has always been the soundtrack to my Christmas and…

Advent23: December 11

For at least a 20+ year period of my life, I had beef with the shepherds from the Nativity story. It all started in the early 2000’s when I was an 11 year-old youngster. As a young, gay, Pentecostal pastor’s kid, my chances for dressing in shiny and bejeweled…

Advent23: December 10

On the second Sunday of Advent, we are talking about John the Baptist.  Advent is kinda weird, in that we prepare for Christmas (at least during early Advent) by telling stories that happened when Jesus was an adult.  We get ready to celebrate the birth…

Advent23: December 9

Over the last week or so, there’s a song I’ve been listening to quite a lot.  It’s called “Thou Who Wast Rich” and the version I’ve been listening to is performed by a group called “Ordinary Time.” There’s nothing fancy about the song – it’s just a hymn, and I…

Advent23: December 8

I love keeping family traditions, especially around Christmas time. Some traditions we have in our family include not listening to Christmas music until afterThanksgiving (although I think one of our daughters starts earlier each year), dipping pretzels inwhite…

Advent23: December 7

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”  This line from the popular Christmas song, O Holy Night, carried me through the Christmas of 2021. As the world continued to isolate due to COVID-19, I was navigating a challenging diagnosis. By December 2021, my…

Advent23: December 6

Be warned: today’s Advent devotion includes some profanity.  First, an explanation: Advent is a season that is traditionally associated with the biblical genre of apocalypticism.  Apocalypticism (or “apocalyptic” or “apocalypse”) is a genre of literature…

Advent23: December 5

Growing up in Michigan, one of my favorite things was coming out of the Christmas Eve service to a light blanket of snow on the sidewalk. It happened pretty much every Christmas and is a very special memory for me. So, when I moved down to Virginia, I had the…

Advent23: December 4

Every year in December, my Mom would bring out the “Christmas Lamp” to mine and my siblings excited delight.  The vintage 1957 Econolite motion lamp, pictured here, is a paper lantern sitting on a base with a light bulb.  Between the light and…

Advent23: December 3

Advent is a counterintuitive season. It ends with joy joy – joy to the world, joy beyond our ability to fathom it. At the end of Advent comes Christmas, when we celebrate the Light of the World entering into our darkness, the Prince of Peace overcoming our…