"Then Mary said, 'Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.' Then the angel departed from her." - Luke 1:38
When many of us were growing up it was common for fathers to tell their children, especially boys: "Son, I don't care if you are a bricklayer or a CEO, just do your best, grab life by the horns and go for it!" Mothers on the other hand might say something like, "I don't care what you do just as long as you're happy."
We can be sure that Mary's parents had much less spectacular dreams for their daughter. To begin with, they wanted her to get married and not starve. Turning up pregnant-out-of-wedlock put all of that in profound jeopardy.
Yet the angel Gabriel greets her as if she has just won the vocational lottery. As an unwed teenager from an insignificant town in an unimportant province of an occupied nation, Mary was an odd pick for the job of "mother of God." How's her kid going to save the world with such lackluster pedigree?
For starters he had a strong, fearless, gutsy woman for a mother, a mother who was willing to take big risks, lay down her life for God and shake her fist at Rome. In every way, Jesus would not have been Jesus without her.
Protestants don't pay much attention to Mary. That's too bad. Jesus obviously did. So on this day of the feast of the Annunciation, let's join our Catholic brothers and sisters and pray together:
Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.