The Common Good

A Look at Mary in August

My wife and I are starting the book of Luke for our devotional reading this week. The whole Christmas story comes up so fast, and it is a bit strange to consider the story in August. We talked about the extreme categorization of the Western church and how certain stories are usually told only at one time of the year. Well, not so now.

We thought if we can separate ourselves from the "assigned category" of Christmas and hear the story as a story -- not just as the propositional truth we are expected to hear -- maybe something different will surface, and it did. It was very simple, really. Just one thought we always missed when hearing the story at Christmas.

The scriptures give us the words to Mary's song. In Luke 1:52-53, she sings out for joy after the conception of Christ:

"He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands."

I had understood before that the Messiah was to bring Jubilee and justice, but I had never really applied this to Mary's heart for justice as preparation for the Christ. Of all the women in Israel, Mary's heart was prepared to see justice from God's purview. She had a divine perspective to see the haughty, rich rulers brought low and the poor, hungry oppressed receive some of their wealth. It was in a heart like this that God chose to make possible the birth that was to bring about our salvation.

Is this our perspective and heart? If not, will there really be a place for Jesus there? Our actions often reveal what is in our hearts. Are we serving the marginalized of society? According to the scriptures, they are whom God favors. Do our wallets reflect this heart for poor and oppressed people? Do our votes reflect God's sense of justice for the poor and oppressed? Like you, I need to answer this question today in August -- rather than waiting until Christmas.

Rev. Randy Woodley is a Keetoowah Cherokee Indian teacher, lecturer, poet, activist, pastor, and the author of Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity (InterVarsity Press).

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