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Lessons & Carols 4 – Luke 1:26-38; “One Tough Mother”

The Fourth Lesson: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

“One Tough Mother” by Christian McIvor

What others thought of her she knew was just a sham,
She just heard God speak and said, “Here I am.”
She held her head up high through the struggle and the strife.
Woah, she’s the one God singled out, yeah, there ain’t no other –
Woah, that Mary is one tough mother.

A new “carol” of sorts, the lyrics of “One Tough Mother” pay tribute to one of the strongest, most tenacious women of the Bible (and there are many).  At the end of our Third Lesson, Luke 1:26-38, after being told that she will be responsible for carrying and birthing the Son of God, Mary answers with an unwavering, “Yes!” to God:

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (v. 38a)

Fully aware of the potential shunning, shame, and pain that her pregnancy could bring on, Mary just heard God speak and said, “Here I am,” to carry Jesus within and labor to deliver Christ into the world.  And while the lyrics of the song somewhat ironically state that Mary was “the one God singled out,” the words of twentieth century Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth remind us that all of us are singled out by God in concrete ways, as he wrote, “God’s word means that God speaks… [and] God always has something specific to say to each person, something that applies to them and them alone.”  

This Advent season, we are weary after living through 9 months of a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc and an election cycle that has pushed an already divided country even further apart.  Some days, it can be difficult to find much hope, peace, joy, or even love.  In these times, we would do well to remember the example Mary provides in how to listen for and respond to God’s word – with a fierce, resolute toughness that perseveres to bring Christ into the world.

While we expectantly await the birth of our Lord, how are we responding to the ways in which each of us are called to nurture the Christ within and deliver Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love to the world?

-Christian McIvor