RePost on Mary, Mother of Christ

The following post was originally written in April. I am reposting it here again as a result of our Sunday School class discussion regarding the birth of Christ and how people were told he was coming. This morning we talked about Simeon with Mary and Joseph at the temple during Mary’s purification sacrifice.

When I originally posted these thoughts I got a few comments. I’d like to hear more of what people have to say. I think Mary is an understudied and underappreciated woman in the scriptures in my own church experience. Traditionally, our children are taught very little about her. It’s fun to delve a little further into what must have been an amazing life.

 Mary, Mother of Christ Resurrected.

 I am amazingly drawn to the life of Mary, mother of Christ. Popular culture paints her as a young woman to whom nothing extraordinary happened. She was young, naive and simple…until the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Until then, we imagine, she had lived a quiet life in Nazareth, doing the things all other girls did. No mention of her immediate family, parents or siblings. But, when this angel showed up, she doesn’t seem afraid of him. Luke describes her as “troubled” and although Gabriel asked her not to “be afraid”, Luke seems to imply that she simply wondered what was up with this?! Luke 1:29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

According to the Nativity Gospel of Mary, extraordinary circumstances surrounded this young woman’s life long before this angelic visit and long before she herself was conceived.  Her father, Joachim, was greatly troubled at his barrenness. The high priest at that time belittled him saying he was unworthy of presenting his gifts before God because God had not seen fit to bless him with offspring. Joachim wandered into the pastures of the shepherds to hide himself in his sorrow. While he was there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that he would indeed have a child. God had seen fit to “open the womb” of his wife, not to just give them children, but to bring glory to Himself. Sound familiar? This angel then appeared to Anna, his wife, and told her that she would bear a child, name her Mary and that this child would find favor with God. She would be a special child in the temple of the Lord.

According to this writing, Joseph was also called divinely to be the “root of Jesse” through which our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.  It seems that both Mary and Joseph were somewhat accustomed to divine intervention.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he filled her “chamber” with “great light.”  [Chap 9, vs. 3] “And the virgin, who was already well acquainted with angelic faces, and was not unused to the light from heaven, was neither terrified by the vision of the angel, nor astonished at the greatness of the light, but only perplexed by his words; and she began to consider of what nature a salutation so unusual could be, or what it could portend, or what end it could have. “

It seems to me that God would be mighty picky about the vessel in which his son would be nurtured. If God was to take the form of man and be born of a woman, a virgin, He would likely have groomed her from the moment she was conceived. I imagine Mary must have become quite used to angels checking in on her now and then, and, dare I say…she may have conversed on a more intimate level with YHWH who would ultimately become her son? It seems so fantastic and supernatural…yet she accepts it with such grace as though she always knew it would happen this way.

Christ loved his mother like no other person on earth…as I hope my children love me. As he hung crucified, he beseeched John to love her and asked her to take John as her son. Watching out for both of them as he left them behind. Unbearable heartache enjoined with unending love as the skies opened and God himself took on the pain and sin of the world in complete and utter surrender to love…while this woman who loved Him in all imaginable ways looked on. Her heart must have been bursting and breaking and flying high to be entwined with the unimaginable healing power of grace.

The Nativity Gospel of Mary as a historical account of events was likely handed down orally from generation to generation…much like our own family histories today. It does nothing to diminish the deity of Christ, rather delves into the history of his mother and I read it as a love note on her behalf.  Frederica Matthewes-Green has this wonderful essay on Mary that discusses writings pertaining to the Virgin Mary.  Many of us are afraid of her…we don’t want to fall too deeply into what some fear would be a worship of Mary on par with a worship of Christ…but I think it’s worth looking at this woman as a integral part of the life of Jesus Christ on a deeper level than just that of the birth mother.  Did she live her life waiting for her son to give of his? How much did she know or understand? I wonder, too, how much time Jesus spent with his mother after his resurrection…how could he stay away; how could she?

An amazing woman, to be sure…and one that I am desperately anxious to meet some day.

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The Rest of the Passion?

There are so many discussions in the blogosphere right now surrounding the authenticity of the church, scriptures and the relevance of the cross to Christianity. I’m participating in a couple of them on an elementary level and I am again back to a gospel no one really reads. The Gospel of Nicodemus. It is also my understanding that in some anabaptist/Mennonite/Amish circles, this gospel is highly regarded as historically accurate or at least worth the time it takes to read. Perhaps I dreamt that and some sage Menno (Leon/Dad) will likely be along to confirm or deny that.

Anyway, the account of Christ’s trial and cricifixion in the Gospel of Nicodemus or Acts of Pilate is more in depth than the Bible’s accounts go. Christ has little or nothing to say that is different from what our Gospels record, but everyone else does. Particularly the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Jesus’ followers.

The Jewish leaders were angry that Jesus was performing miracles on the Sabbath (not really caring that he was doing miraculous, wonderful things only God could do, but that his timing was lousy) and loudly denouncing him as an evil person.  According to this writing, people whom Jesus had healed came to his defense. The man who took up his bed and walked, the woman with the issue of blood (apparently her name was Bernice), blind, lepers and others told their stories. How cool! They couldn’t deny the deity of Jesus Christ, yet the leaders swept that part away.

A verbal stone thrown at Jesus was the accusation of the leaders that because of him, many children had been killed by Herod at his birth. I never thought about this much. Imagine all the heartbroken parents walking around watching Jesus live his life and wondering how Mary got so lucky as to have her child spared! Only 33 years later, Jesus had to have felt their burden. I wonder if he ever talked about it. The leaders at his trial acknowledged that he was the one Herod was looking for, so I imagine it came up somewhere.

I particularly like the depth to which Pilate’s agony is portrayed in this writing. He was tortured over the decision to prosecute Jesus. He tried and tried to let him go, but couldn’t. His politics got in the way and he ultimately washed his hands, but you can almost feel his sorrow at doing so.

Then, the crucifixion as portrayed here and the reaction of the guards to the resurrection is so great! They couldn’t believe their eyes and acknowledged in no uncertain terms that they had crucifed a righteous man. At the appearance of angels at the tomb, they played dead out of fear, but they knew by then who they were dealing with. They tried to convince others of his deity, but even in all of that, the leaders couldn’t accept. Couldn’t surrender.

We do that every day, don’t we? Reduce his miracles, deity and holiness to what is convenient for us. As long as he is working in our lives on our time line, we’re happy to let him carry on. As soon as he works a miracle, nudges our conscience or otherwise breaks through our thick skulls at a time we don’t want him to, we try to deny his power in our lives. We take back control. We can’t surrender.

Unashamed Desire

I posted this many months ago, but I wanted to bring it to the top of the blog again. These thoughts have come up in conversation lately with other bloggers and non bloggers, so I share it with you again.


Unashamed Desire

I have fallen in love many times in my life. At least, I think so. The heart fluttering, sweaty palms kind of nausea that we come to recognize as falling hard. I have never been a man, but I imagine these feelings are similar for them. I have watched otherwise normal men I know get really foolish in the presence of women and can only imagine they are ready to buckle any minute. It’s great! If only it could be bottled and sprayed on every morning, the aroma of that kind of fresh new love would sustain us all through each crazy moment!

I remember the night I met my husband, I didn’t actual fall in love….I jumped feet first towards it and landed hard! And then I pursued this man. I called him all the time. I sent him balloons. I worked night shift and would stay up all day if it meant I’d get to hang out with him for a while. I memorized his voice, the way he walked, and I couldn’t get the thought of him out of my head. The first time he held me I nearly fainted, I felt so safe. He’d say things to me and I’d believe everything he told me about myself. He told me I was pretty, I was fun and one day that he loved me. I was relentless about wanting to be with him in every imaginable way. Nothing else in my agenda mattered if the promise of his time was there. I wanted to get to know everything about him. To learn his likes, his dislikes and what his dreams were. Every day I was excited to learn something new and I couldn’t wait to build a future with him!

I have begun to feel that unabashed, unembarrassed, anxious, impatient desire again. This time though,not with any man, but with my God. Jeremiah 1 says that before I was even a thought in a woman’s mind, He knew me. It doesn’t say that I was an afterthought or that I was someone He’d like to get to know, but that He already KNEW me! Wahoo! He has always known me, now I want to know him. He wants that too, and has made it really simple for me to do. In my hands, I hold His words and thoughts. He has written me a love letter and each morning I read another page. I have begun to read His Word as though it was written just for me. Each letter penned with love and a passionate desire for me to learn to know Him and everything He dreams of. I want to immerse myself in Him. Not only to hide His words in my heart in order to stay blameless, but to turn to his Word for everything. My first answer to any question should come from His heart, not my own. I want to drown in his love, to breathe out everything that I breathe in from his letter to me. Each night as I lay down, I tell Him that I can’t wait to talk with Him again in the morning, and the excitement I get when He wakes me is awesome! It’s that fresh new love, sweaty palms, crazy excited feeling again. I can’t wait to hear what fantastic thing He’ll teach me about my life and his desires today.

I have found in Him my perfect friend, wholly sovereign authority in my life and the lover of my soul. In the words of Moses to the Lord, “You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

Unashamed Desire!


Unashamed Desire

I have fallen in love many times in my life. At least, I think so. The heart fluttering, sweaty palms kind of nausea that we come to recognize as falling hard. I have never been a man, but I imagine these feelings are similar for them. I have watched otherwise normal men I know get really foolish in the presence of women and can only imagine they are ready to buckle any minute. It’s great! If only it could be bottled and sprayed on every morning, the aroma of that kind of fresh new love would sustain us all through each crazy moment!

I remember the night I met my husband, I didn’t actual fall in love….I jumped feet first towards it and landed hard! And then I pursued this man. I called him all the time. I sent him balloons. I worked night shift and would stay up all day if it meant I’d get to hang out with him for a while. I memorized his voice, the way he walked, and I couldn’t get the thought of him out of my head. The first time he held me I nearly fainted, I felt so safe. He’d say things to me and I’d believe everything he told me about myself. He told me I was pretty, I was fun and one day that he loved me. I was relentless about wanting to be with him in every imaginable way. Nothing else in my agenda mattered if the promise of his time was there. I wanted to get to know everything about him. To learn his likes, his dislikes and what his dreams were. Every day I was excited to learn something new and I couldn’t wait to build a future with him!

I have begun to feel that unabashed, unembarrassed, anxious, impatient desire again. This time though,not with any man, but with my God. Jeremiah 1 says that before I was even a thought in a woman’s mind, He knew me. It doesn’t say that I was an afterthought or that I was someone He’d like to get to know, but that He already KNEW me! Wahoo! He has always known me, now I want to know him. He wants that too, and has made it really simple for me to do. In my hands, I hold His words and thoughts. He has written me a love letter and each morning I read another page. I have begun to read His Word as though it was written just for me. Each letter penned with love and a passionate desire for me to learn to know Him and everything He dreams of. I want to immerse myself in Him. Not only to hide His words in my heart in order to stay blameless, but to turn to his Word for everything. My first answer to any question should come from His heart, not my own. I want to drown in his love, to breathe out everything that I breathe in from his letter to me. Each night as I lay down, I tell Him that I can’t wait to talk with Him again in the morning, and the excitement I get when He wakes me is awesome! It’s that fresh new love, sweaty palms, crazy excited feeling again. I can’t wait to hear what fantastic thing He’ll teach me about my life and his desires today.

I have found in Him my perfect friend, wholly sovereign authority in my life and the lover of my soul. In the words of Moses to the Lord, “You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”