Reflection on Mary

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Kent Davis Sensenig has received a number of requests for a transcript of his remarks on Mary from our church service at Brethren Woods during Church retreat. Unfortunately, we did not have recording capabilities at camp, but Kent has generously offered his written words to us.

Grace to you and peace, through God the Creator and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  This weekend we have been learning from Mary about the Way of Jesus, just as Jesus first learned this Way from Mary, as a bright-eyed child growing up in Galilee.  The New Testament provides us multiple snapshots of Mary.  

She was:

  • the last—but certainly not the least—of five trouble-making, truth-telling, resourceful women to grace the genealogy of Jesus;
  • a scared, pregnant teenager, facing shame, stigma, and punishment from her home-community and abandonment by the one person who might protect her, her older, husband-to-be;
  • a brave and bold young woman, with the presence of mind to ask questions even of angels and yet decisive enough to give an unambiguous “yes” to God without the doubts and caveats that troubled even the greatest prophets of old, like “I can’t speak” Moses, “I’m too young” Jeremiah or “I’m too sinful” Isaiah;
  • a relationally-wise woman who knew when she needed help and the right person to run too when she did, her trusted older friend and cousin Elizabeth;
  • a revolutionary prophet whose earth-shaking song about a coming-kingdom of equity has resonated and roared down the centuries, sometimes even tearing tyrants from their thrones;
  • an ordinary, down-trodden member of the Galilean working-class, blown and buffeted by the dictates of empire, displaced and on-the-road when she most needed shelter and security, close to giving birth to her first child and making the best of whatever came her way in a strange place far from home;
  • the gracious, self-possessed young woman able to receive great gifts from surprising strangers, and offer hospitality to aromatic kings and smelly shepherds alike, in even the most humble of surroundings;  
  • the thoughtful contemplative who “pondered all these things in her heart,” seeking the mysterious pattern being woven into the fabric of her life by God;
  • a proud mother, faithfully dedicating her child to the God of her people, offering with love the poor person’s sacrifice of two turtle-doves and then hearing with eager joy an out-of-the-blue prophecy of what her baby might become;
  • the refugee fleeing for her life at a moment’s notice into a foreign land, preservering through years of trauma and turbulent transition until she could again make a stable home for her family in Nazareth;
  • an anxious parent, giving her inquisitive child the freedom to explore and grow, even in the big city of Jerusalem, yet searching and finding him like a lost sheep, when needed;
  • an older, now single mom, raising a flock of many children without the help of a partner, barely stitching house and home together while sharing all the love and wisdom she had to give;
  • an empowering mentor, pushing her young adult son out of the nest and on to the center stage of his public ministry, his first miracle, at a wedding feast;
  • a fiercely protective older mother, trying to turn her radical adult son away from the collision course he was on with the Powers-that-Be, but having to learn to let him go and stand aside, despite her very real fears about his future;
  • a sorrowing mother, her heart pierced by a sword just as the prophecy had predicted, as she stood and watched in agony the slow, torturous death of her first-born son, risking her own life to stand in solidarity with his suffering;
  • a grieving mother who still does what needs to be done, finding the tomb and attending to the death rituals while in a fog of pain, yet again wise enough to keep the company and seek the comfort of trusted sisters-in-faith;
  • then, beyond all possible hope, she was one of the women to witness—and then witness to—the most amazing good news ever heard, the executed defender of the weak rising to life with power and peace for the whole world, even enemies, even us. Mary was one of the first apostles of our resurrection faith;
  • Finally, this pillar and elder of the community, was with her people, the followers of Jesus, patiently waiting and praying in Jerusalem for the Spirit to come, when she powerfully and personally experienced the birth of the church in wind and fire at Pentecost, just as she had powerfully and personally experienced the birth of Jesus in water and womb decades before, in Bethlehem…   

Let us continue to listen to Mary and learn about the Way of Jesus this morning, in song and sermon and sharing…

Community Mennonite Church
70 South High Street Harrisonburg, VA