What was Mary really like?



“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. –Luke 1:38

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” –Luke 1:46-47

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. –Luke 2:5-7


I am fascinated by the biblical character of Mary.

I can’t help but wonder what she was really like, compared to what our traditions and assumptions have made her out to be.

When I look at nativity scenes, Mary is calm and demure, almost unrelatable in her seeming other-worldliness. But when I look behind the words of the biblical account? I see strength and bravery and fortitude way beyond her age. (Which, by the way, is also never reflected well in our pictures. Have you ever scene Mary look like the young adolescent girl she probably was?)

Mary was a woman who accepted the words of the angel, likely knowing that as a result, her community would ostracize her. She was a woman in the midst of a patriarchal culture who penned a song about how God was with her and others who were oppressed. She was a woman who gave birth, without an epidural, in less than ideal conditions, in a place that was not her home.

On Sunday, my friend Matt wondered if Mary might be compared to Katniss Everdeen, a young girl brave enough to accept a difficult challenge in order to help her people. (Yup, that comparison was really made in a church service.)

In the midst of a season when I get so focused on myself, on my schedule, on my to do list, on the stress of all that is December, I wonder how I could emulate Mary. Willing. Sacrificial. Brave.


Spirit, give us the strength you gave to Mary. Provide us with the fortitude to do the hard things when they are what are required. Give us the vision to see the oppressed, the hurting, the downtrodden, and to stand with them and for them. Give us willing hearts to set aside our own visions of what we should do this month and pick up Yours. Amen.


Breath of Heaven – Maywood Band

“In a world as cold as stone, must I walk this path alone?

Be with me now.”


Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.