Commentary by Walter Albritton


December 8


Mary, Humble and Joyous Servant of God

Read Luke 1:26-56

Key Verse: Luke 1:30, 31


            I have a friend in Opelika whose ready response to everyone he meets is always the same: “I am blessed.” Once you get to know Jack Smollen, you realize that his greeting is not superficial. He really means it.

            People who knew Jack before his conversion say that when Jack got saved, he really got saved. The change was dramatic, like the difference between daylight and dark. The man really loves God. He is truly thankful for his salvation.

            While some people may be bothered by Jack’s display of piety, I like it. He is not shy about his faith. He wants everyone to know that, to borrow a phrase from the nativity story, he is a sinner who has “found favor with God.”

What I hear Jack saying is this: “Despite my unworthiness, I am a blessed man, and God’s blessing is the most important thing in my life.”

So immediately, when you meet Jack, you are confronted with the subject of God, and his great willingness to bless ordinary people.

That is remarkably different from the way some other people may greet us. Often what we are greeted with is an account of how sick the person has been, or what the person thinks about the outcome of the most recent Alabama-Auburn football game.

            Would to God we might all find a winsome and natural way to share with others our gratitude for God’s blessing. Indeed, we are all blessed. In a way, we have all found favor with God.

            The question that arises is this: are we aware of God’s blessing, and are we thankful enough for it to tell others?

            We may examine with profit Mary’s example of submission to God. Did she have questions? Of course. Even Gabriel’s answer probably left her wanting to know more. However, she refused to allow doubt to rule her mind and heart. Quickly she surrendered her life to God’s mission as she understood it.

            I like the way Eugene Peterson translates Mary’s submissive response to God:

            And Mary said,

            “Yes, I see it all now;

                        I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.

            Let it be with me

                        just as you say.”

            (The New Testament in Contemporary English, p. 116)

            Mary’s example is one of faith. She realized she was blessed. She trusted God and submitted herself to his plan. Her submission brought joy. Her joy prompted her to praise God. Until our surrender to God is real, all our praise of God is hollow, and God knows it.

 So in one decisive moment, Mary becomes, for all the ages, a beautiful model of what happens to those who are willing to say to God, “You have blessed me. Now I am ready to serve you. No matter what the future holds, I will praise your name and tell others what joy has come to my heart through glad surrender.”

As we reflect on the lessons of Mary’s experience, let us find a quiet place where we too can say to the Father: “Thank you for blessing me. I am ready, like Mary, to serve you with my whole heart. Strengthen my hands to do your will, and allow my lips to praise you as long as I have breath.”

When with such a submissive heart we turn to the living God, He never fails to flood our souls with joy, real joy, and the kind we can never find boxed under a Christmas tree. + + +