Friday, December 22, 2006

Mary, Mother of our Lord

Last Sunday in Bible class some members asked me why we don't hear much about Mary. Good question. Lutherans have historically been sensitive to Catholic excesses with regard to Mary. The list could include: her immaculate conception, her assumption into heaven, her role as coredemptrix, and her special status as intercessor to the Son (all of which do not have direct Biblical witness.) The omnipresence of Mary statues in countless front yards seems to reinforce in the non-Catholic mind the sense that Mary ranks a bit to high in the hierarchy of heaven for Protestant taste.

However, with all that said, Lutherans (and Protestants/ Evangelicals, etc.) must admit that we have historically given Mary short-shrift. This Sunday in the Gospel of Luke, the first chapter, we will hear again as Elizabeth declares her "blessed among women." Mary herself, in the beloved hymn the Magnificat, will also prophesy that "throughout all generations - people will call be blessed."

Now to be fair her 'blessedness' comes with the blessing of the "fruit of her womb." Still, Mary is unique among women. Her childlike faith and willingness to accept this role as the bearer of God's presence is humbling. Think for a moment about the overwhelming nature of what was happening in her life. A miracle without parallel was going to take place in her very womb. No other women would be a virgin mother with God as the father. Yet without a need to explain the mystery she quietly accepted this blessing, and with it the special calling to be a mother like no other.

She would worry about her son she feared lost. Her heart would be pieced in grief like other mothers. Yes, her struggles in many ways were not much different than mothers today. And yet her willingness to trust her son and humble herself before him is worthy of our attention. She assumes the vocation of one who will care for him and protect him in his vulnerable state, and then, in the end, will step aside to watch him die, no longer able to protect him, yet knowing that He is now protecting her.

Mary deserves our attention, and not just at Christmas. However, this Sunday is a good time to remember this blessed woman and the call of our own confessions to honor and follow the example of the saints. May we embrace with Mary this quiet miracle in Bethlehem, and join her praise as she "magnifies the Lord," remembering the gift that this child is to all mankind - Son of God and son of man, Jesus, the one come to save His people from their sins.

P.S. I was going to address one other issue with regard to Mary, but will leave it more as a question for today and welcome your response. Some within Lutheran circles, I've noticed, are quite committed to the teaching of the perpetual virginity of Mary. This has never been an issue for me. In reading Dr. David Scaer's commentary on James (purported to be to the brother of our Lord), it did not seem to be for this professor either. Do any of you have insights as to why the perpetual virginity of Mary would be so important to Lutherans?


Rev. David M. said...

It's a matter of Christology more than a matter of Mariolotry.

D. Engebretson said...

To clarify, I in no way want to compare a devotion to the perpetual virginity of Mary to Mariolotry. I simply want to understand why it would be important to those who hold it as such. I can understand why the virgin birth itself is critical to Christology (as re: the very divinity of our Lord), but I'm missing the point on her continued virginity. Perhaps someone can enlighten me futher on which aspect of Christology I should be focusing on.