In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Dancing in the Streets, the reader is asked:
What is it that brings collective joy to people?
What a great question! Another form of the question might be, “What causes people to celebrate wildly?” We might even want to ask, “What is it that brings a church joy?” What about you? What brings you joy?
When the angel Gabriel told Mary the news regarding the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55), Mary was thrilled and praised God at what was happening in her life. She sees this as an opportunity to participate in the work of God.
Now some in Mary’s day might have thought that a person like Mary would not have the opportunity to really experience joy. In fact, Mary could have thought, “How can I experience joy when I am at this very difficult time in my life?” After all, she is pregnant and not married.
Mary is also poor and just getting by. She knows what it is to be seen as a person of little consequence. You know people like this. She may be the waitress at I-Hop. She may be the maid at the Holiday Inn Express who only speaks Spanish. Mary is a nondescript person who would not have even been noticed by many people.
Mary receives the news that she is going to have a baby. This may appear to be a curse. After all, she is not married. She risks being accused of adultery. Joseph could not put her away. Yet, rather than a curse, this birth will be a blessing to every tongue and tribe, to every nation and every continent.
Now Mary rejoices. She praises the Lord for remembering her.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:46-48)
The grace of God really is amazing. The grace of God caused men and women to celebrate.
It still does.
(Win a free copy of Scot McKnight’s book, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus. Interested? See L. L. Barkat’s post, “Did I Really Pray That?” Go here. Also, the winner of the giveaway will have the opportunity to guest post on Beliefnet )