Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 7, 2014


Mary’s Inspiring Example


December is here again. So once again our thoughts turn to Santa Claus and Rudolph and for Christians to Joseph and Mary as well. One of the most helpful exercises of this season is to examine the inspiring example of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mary was nobody, young and poor. Like most women of her time she had no status. She was from a village known only to prophets. Yet God plucked her out of nowhere to become the mother of God.

Mary’s pregnancy was odd to say the least. An angel announced it to her. How often does that happen? Not just any angel but the angel Gabriel. The angel explained to Mary that her pregnancy would not result from sexual intercourse with a man. The Holy Spirit would be responsible.

Mary’s baby would be no ordinary baby. Gabriel explained that her son would be “the holy one” and called “the Son of God.” We would not be surprised had Mary replied, “Are you kidding?” But, of course, according to Luke, she made no such reply. Gabriel tried to assuage her doubt by explaining that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s response is remarkable. In total surrender to the will of God, Mary says to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Little wonder then that Mary’s commitment has become such a powerful example to believers in every age.

Did Mary’s commitment waver? We cannot help but wonder. She remained in poverty. Her status did not change because she had become the mother of God.

Shunning kings and castles, God arranges for the Messiah to be born in a barn. Considering her situation, perhaps Mary wondered out loud to Joseph, “Is this what it means to be favored by God?” Luke will not allow us to suppose Mary asked such a question.

Instead Luke insists that Mary’s attitude is summed up in her song, the Magnificat, when she says, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Herein is her awesome example.

In these days we are not likely to express our commitment to God with such lofty words. That is why a modern translator like Eugene Peterson (The Message) is so helpful. Here is Mary’s song:

      I'm bursting with God-news; 
      I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. 
      God took one good look at me, and look what happened— 
      I'm the most fortunate woman on earth! 
   What God has done for me will never be forgotten, 
      the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. 
   His mercy flows in wave after wave 
      on those who are in awe before him. 
   He bared his arm and showed his strength, 
      scattered the bluffing braggarts. 
   He knocked tyrants off their high horses, 
      pulled victims out of the mud. 
   The starving poor sat down to a banquet; 
      the callous rich were left out in the cold. 
   He embraced his chosen child, Israel; 
      he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. 
   It's exactly what he promised, 
      beginning with Abraham and right up to now.


How can Mary’s example help us today? It should remind us that God uses ordinary people in unexpected ways. We can expect God to call upon us to serve him in the trenches, in the ordinary affairs of daily life.

We can learn to see God “with us” when we do simple things with love – like taking soup to a sick friend, visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, going inside steel doors to visit someone in prison, sending a blanket to a soldier or giving money for the support for an orphan in Africa.

Mary was enthusiastic about being God’s servant. She made no demands upon God but was content to do his will even in a lowly stable.

If we are willing to do “small things with great love” God can use our ordinary lives to accomplish his will today. We can refuse to complain and following Mary’s example say, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I am ready to be your servant.”

        Choosing to serve God without grumbling, no matter the cost or the circumstances, could be the best decision you make during this holy season. + + +