Friday, December 24, 2004

From today's Evangelical Outpost:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace:An Evangelical's Reappraisal of Mary

Earlier this year, The Passion of the Christ sparked a great deal of controversy, shocking even believers with its realistic scenes of torture. But one of the most stunning scenes of the movie was one of the least violent. As Jesus stumbles and falls while carrying the cross, an inconsolable Mary watches and reflects on a similar memory from his childhood.

Being a parent myself I empathized with her sense of helplessness and discovered that I had never really thought of her in this way. I was struck by the realization that Jesus wasn’t just the son of God; he was Mary’s son too.

I also realized that I suffer from a mild case of Maryphobia – the fear that any appreciation of Mary will be viewed as a sign that I'm a closet Catholic. Like many evangelicals, my renunciation of Marian theology causes me to downplay the importance of Mary herself. Oddly, while we are quick to defend the virgin birth, we are often hesitant to praise the virgin mother. Even during Christmas we often pay more attention to the magi than we do to the woman who gave birth to our Savior.

How is this possible? How can we ignore one of the most incredible humans who every lived? How can we not be in awe of this woman when we realize she held God in her womb.

Consider for a moment what it must have been like for this Jewish virgin. At home in Nazareth, planning her wedding to a stout young carpenter, dreaming of the children they will have and the home they will make and then…the angel Gabriel appears in order to tell her she's been chosen to give birth to the Son of God.

And everything changes.

She dreams about the honor it will be to bring this child into the world…and then gives birth to him in a stable, surrounded by mules and visited by smelly shepherds.

She waits patiently for the day that he will change the world…and watches as he suffers and dies, hanging on a cross in Golgotha.
She thinks back to the visit by the angel and wonders how everything could go so wrong…and then he comes back, alive and unbroken.
She thanks God for her son’s return…and watches as He goes home to be with His Father.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” said Mary, “for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

Indeed we should. As Gabriel told her, she had found favor with God. She should find favor with us evangelicals as well.

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