[The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to bear the son of God.]Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." - Luke 1:38
Spending time recently in some wonderful art museums, I was reminded again and again – particularly while looking at Medieval, Renaissance, and Central and South American art - of the centrality of the Madonna and child.
While Mary receives supporting actress accolades in post-reformation Protestantism, she receives a co-star role with Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church. Those painted halos in the art work are for both Mary and the Babe.
We inheritors of the mainline Protestant traditions need to give more attention to Mary because she is one of us. She's fully human . . . take away the halos; she's earthy and unsure of herself – a work in progress. She faced and struggled with how to answer the same question we wrestle with when God calls us to be a vessel of Christ's grace and truth. The only possible answers are "Yes" or "No." "Maybe later" is just another form of "No." Mary set aside her reservations, her fears, the realities of the risks involved and she said "Yes!" She said "Yes" - regardless of the impositions and even chaos the birth of a child might bring into her life or what others might think of her.
Today God will ask us when a word of goodness and grace needs to be offered or a just deed needs to be done: "Will you be a vessel of Christ's grace and truth?" If we are looking for a "halo" moment we all know what the answer should be.
God of the miracle of birth, give us today the courage to say "Yes!" when you call us to be a vessel of your grace and truth. Amen.
Bob Naylor has served in parish and national staff ministries and now is the lead consultant for a clergy and church coaching and planning ministry, In Church Imagining. He is the author of a recently released book by Pilgrim Press, What Church Leaders REALLY Need to Know.