Hail Mary

One of my all time favorite teens was a little country girl from a town with a population of less than 150 residents. Even more intriguing she was a cave dweller in a primitive area. Her home town was so insignificant that in a listing of 250 towns and settlements in the area it was not even included. Josephus was the historian making the list.

We know that young girl by the simple and beautiful name to which she added honor, Mary. Just Mary. If applications had been taken for virgins Mary probably would never have been found.

She was one of only two Bible character to have seen an angel in over 400 years. When one did show up he brought an unimaginable message. She was going to have a baby without conception. Yeah, right. Later secular records say she was at the well getting water when the angel came. The Bible doesn’t say where she was. That is not important;  what message was conveyed was important.

Now she was “betrothed” to Joseph the son of a carpenter. I have read all sorts of prose and poetry about his work as a woodworking craftsman. Few trees grow in the area of Nazereth. It was a settlement of cave dwellers. The caves can still be visited today. Does it make sense that in that environment a wood worker could have made a living. The word translated “carpenter” is understood by us to mean one who works with wood. The word was also used to refer to a stone mason. Very probably Joseph was a worker with stone not wood.

Historians calculating all the variables conclude that at the time of the annunciation Mary was between 13 and 16 years of age. That was not an uncommon age for marriage in that era.

The law of the day said a woman pregnant out of wedlock was to be stoned. She and Joseph both knew this. The firestorm about to come down on them is unimaginable.

First, there must have been at least one gossip in town to start the rumors flying. Think of what it must have been like for Mary to tell her parents of the embarrassing news that was sure to disgrace them. After all, Mary, your cover story of an angel and the Holy Spirit causing the pregnancy isn’t very pragmatic. You have got to do better than that.

All of this happened during the time they were “betrothed.” That defined a period of about one year between when a couple became engaged and the marriage was actually consummated. During this time though single and never alone together they were considered as married. It was a time to prepare for life together.

Against such a backdrop this teen stepped on history’s stage and said to God, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

That took faith. Faith that it could happen and faith that God would see her through the ordeal. It was faith not knowledge that motivated her.

It must have been an inspiring moment when the angel appeared and she made this commitment. Remember this, “commitment is the capacity to carry out the intention of a decision long after the emotion that inspired it has faded.”

The historical Christmas narrative inspires courage and gives hope to all. Mary believed the angel when he said, “With God nothing is impossible.”