Recently, I've been taken aback---at times, to almost tears---when thinking about the Christmas story this season. Being in China doesn't help, as the usual Sunday church-going experience is gone and the constant reminders of Joseph and Mary and Jesus are not scattered in manger scenes all over the city. But still, a song will play on random from my iTunes and it will send me swimming in a mixed bag of emotions---all concerning this teenage girl.
Most of the time, we miss the real Mary at Christmas time I think. We see her as this calm, ever-giving, ever-willing woman who's merely the passing point from the heavens to the Earth. But in reality, she wasn't this at all.
She was however, this very young girl who just happened to believe in the impossible. To believe the radical call to obey what some angel named Gabriel told her in a dream to believe in. And it wasn't some fairy tale bit-of-magic-sort-of-dream, but it was the ordinary and extraordinary dreams we humans have all the time. The ones that make us believe in something greater out there.
But lately, I've wondered about what kind of thoughts and emotions must have been running through her head and heart that night and the following morning. Obviously, we've all had times where we feel God has spoken to us---from the tiny moments through our conscience as a 6-year-old to the loud and outragous repeated calls to love He stirs up in us each and every day---but the rational part of us tends to always question this voice. And rightfully so! For how many crazies and loonies have there been out there who thought they heard the voice of God but really only heard themselves talking very quietly? Or more importantly, how often do we write off the crazies and loonies out there (Mary would be one in our day, no doubt, making every CNN and FOX news headline from China to Cairo to Chicago) as merely fools fooled by themselves?
I believe in the mystery of the Gospel, but what does this look like? Is it some ambiguous whirwind of supernatural phenomena, or is it simply the acts of love that often go unseen in the world today, everday?
I don't know, but right now, I'm humbled by the thought of anyone who behaves like Mary today.