Mary responded in obedience; can we do less?

By Becky Rogowski

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 (New Living Translation)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.” 38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

A baby is coming! We all get this. We’ve anticipated the arrival of babies. It’s all the rage right now to do social media-worthy pregnancy announcements and gender reveals. They’ve become major affairs. Professional photographers, parties, social gatherings, going “live” on your favorite platform. Expecting the arrival of a new life is exciting.

Mary was a virgin and engaged to be married when an angel showed up to tell her she was “God’s favored woman” and that she would be giving birth to a son named Jesus. Imagine her shock at this. An angel appears out of nowhere and tells her she is having the most important child ever. This is huge news.

Mary is young. She is unwed. She is still a virgin. We can speculate from the scripture that she was afraid because the angel tells her not to be afraid. This is definitely not the way she was planning her life, I’m sure. The curveball of a lifetime.

Mary at first questions, “How?” The angel explains it all, and she accepts it. Many currently believe they shouldn’t question God, but Mary did just that. She asked, “How?” Questions cause us to grow and learn. Questions stretch our minds and hearts and increase our understanding. Questions and the exploration for their answers contribute to our faith, even if the questions themselves may ultimately go unanswered. Mary’s questions arose from faith, not doubt. What would your own response to an angel be? Faith? Unbelief?

Without much time passing, Mary goes from shock, to questioning, to complete acceptance. How many of us can say the same when thrown one of life’s curveballs? Every time I read Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement and explanation, I am awed. She replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Here is a teenager facing misunderstanding and rejection from her family, her betrothed, and her townspeople. And yet she agrees. Mary affirms the bedrock truth that undergirds our discipleship:  “I am the Lord’s servant.” After all is said and done, after we have explored all the possibilities, we still must decide:  Am I a servant or a master? Is my allegiance to the Lord or to my own desires?”

Sometimes it takes great turmoil in our souls to come to the place of submission, but come to it we must. Even before Jesus was conceived, Mary was faced with the decision: Will I obey and make way for this King? Or, will I take the easy way that avoids difficulty and pain? To her everlasting credit, Mary’s response of faith is what our response must be: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

We all get busy with life. We have ways we think we are going to do things--plans we’ve made for our lives. We like to make our own decisions. Sometimes life throws curveballs. Are they to test us? Are they to challenge us? Are they to stretch us in ways we haven’t thought possible? Or are they just annoyances?

It’s easy to think we’re too busy to say “yes” to things that might push us out of our comfort zones. We might say, “Someone else can do that.” We might think, “I’ve got better things to do.”

Becky Rogowski

I entered this fall thinking I was too busy to take on one more thing. I had a major change at work. I had some health issues. I thought I was getting things back in order--you know, the way “I” wanted them. I’m sure you can relate. Then, a committee I was on needed someone to step up into more of a leadership role. I felt certain this was not for me. I prayed over it and felt completely called to say “yes,” even though everything around me told me it probably wasn’t the best time to say “yes.”

I said yes to coordinating this year’s Ellis County Ministerial Alliance’s Food Drive in the absence of its past leadership. Logic and reason said it was probably a good idea to let it rest this year, but my heart and soul told me differently. There were so many “God signs” as the food drive came together. I am writing this article as it’s taking place, and let me tell you--God is good. It was definitely something that was meant to be a “yes,” even though logic was pointing to it being a “no” for me. My heart is full, and I know that the people of Ellis County will benefit from it for months to come.

Think of Mary as a disciple and what her “yes” led to. What might your own “yes” mean?

Becky Rogowski is the Generations in Faith Together Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church in Hays.