When I was going through my ordination process, I had to write what the Dover Baptist Association called a, “Theological Credo”. It is a five page paper (and please take note of the number) that I had to describe my beliefs in Jesus Christ, God, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Eschatology, and the Church. Yes, I had to write about all of those subjects in no more than five pages. Maybe they were getting me ready for sermon preparation. I don’t know. I remember writing a disclaimer in my introduction that explained these thoughts would probably change in five years as I continue to grow and mature in my ministry, faith, and study; but for now, this is what I believe.
At the ordination council my paper was presented and the door was opened for questions. There were questions and challenges, which I expected and was prepared for. However one observation caught me off guard. (Well two really, but I will save the other one for another time.) Chalk it up to my naiveté I guess. The question dealt with Mary, the mother of Jesus. I had written a small piece in the Jesus Christ section about Mary and her love for Jesus and Jesus’ love for her. I mentioned her compassion and humility as she answered God’s call to carry this child. Well this section led to a minister asking why I wrote about Mary. I asked him to clarify and he said, “This sounds a little too Catholic, don’t you think?”
I was surprised by that comment and thought to myself, “Really? This entire section on Jesus Christ and you chose to question Mary?” Thankfully, I did not say that out loud but I was quick with a response. “Well, she did have a pretty important role in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, don’t you think?” I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was in regards to my putting too much emphasis on Mary.
It’s been seven and a half years since that day and I do have a different, or enhanced beliefs in what I wrote, including Mary. However I did not change in order to meet the way this minister wanted me to go. This year in particular, I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on Mary and wish I had back then. I wish we Baptists put more emphasis on Mary. Maybe it’s that whole “woman can’t be ministers” thing and that is sad if that is why, but we should put more emphasis on what this woman did and did so because God asked her to.
I adore Mary. Can you imagine living your life? You are keeping to yourself, getting to know this new guy in your life that you recently became engaged to and suddenly your life changes with the Son of God in your womb? This angel appears to you overnight to say God want you to carry this child. No I can’t imagine it. I can’t even give it a breath of thought. It is beyond my capacity of understanding. Gabriel the Angel appeared to Mary and explained that God chose her. God chose Mary and Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favor with God.” God chose Mary.
I was having coffee with a friend the other day. We were talking about Mary when I asked, “Why did God choose Mary?” I had this question in my mind for a while and could not find comfort in any answer I had. He said simply, “I think God chose Mary because she said yes.” Mary said yes. Thankfully I didn’t say it out loud. Mary said yes with the greatest sign of humility and wonder, “Here am I Lord. Let it be according to your word.”
I adore Mary. She said yes to God and lived a life of humility, love, compassion and care for her son and for the world. She loved the man in her life and trusted him to protect her and this baby. A man who could have easily left when all of this happened loved her. Joseph answered God’s call too and stayed with Mary to protect her and raise this son as his own. He adored Mary too. Mary said yes to God, even when she wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her, to the baby, to Joseph or to her future. Mary was a woman called by God to bring the hope and peace to a world in need. She was asked to bring the Messiah into this world. I can’t imagine the weight of the world that laid upon her shoulders and within her womb. She said yes and her life changed and so did ours.
Mary said yes, because God asked her. And look what happened. I adore Mary and look up to her with great admiration. It may sound too Catholic to some, but to me, it sounds just right.
In a world that is hungry for hope and peace, thank you, Mary. Thank you.