It was a very cold night. The young couple, Mary and Joseph, appeared to be cold. Mary and Joseph were by the manger, eyes focused on the little one who had recently been born.
Meanwhile, we slowly crept ahead. We were in a very nice and warm van. On that Sunday evening, we had joined several families as we drove through this drive-thru nativity scene. Mary and Joseph were at a distance on that cold night. We had time to pause only for a moment as there were many cars waiting to drive by this nativity scene. That was many years ago.
Meanwhile, I continue to learn more about this story. I recently looked at Mary up close rather than settling for a drive-by. This happened after reading Scot McKnight’s new book on Mary entitled The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus.
Scot paints a picture of a Mary who is unlike the passive, quiet Mary we often see portrayed. This Mary is a person with a robust faith who in turn serves to point others to Jesus. In the chapters, she is described as:
- A woman of faith.
- A woman of justice.
- A woman of danger.
- A woman of witness.
- A woman of sorrow.
- A woman of wonder.
- A woman of surrender.
- A woman of ambivalence.
- A woman of faithfulness.
- A woman of influence.
Finally, she is described as a woman to be remembered. Perhaps this is one of the greatest values of the book. Scot McKnight reminds those of us who are not Catholics that we have forgotten Mary. For many of us, any talk of Mary invariably focuses on what we do not believe about Mary. In the book, there are two very fine chapters on the Catholic-Protestant controversies about Mary.
This book is not about the veneration of Mary. Nor does it in any way encourage the reader toward traditional Catholic teachings about Mary. However, it does invite the reader to embrace the Mary of the Bible. She is the Mary who once uttered the words, in response to the angel Gabriel, "I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said" (1:38).
Anyway, I encourage you to consider reading The Real Mary. I’m glad I did. Yes, I came away impressed with Mary. But even more important, I came away impressed with a wonderful God who would use this young woman to send Jesus to the world.
In the meantime, Sunday is coming and I am preaching on Mary.