Mary's Little Lamb
Luke 1: 26-38
December 18, 2005
If Joseph is the forgotten character of Christmas, Mary has to be the most misunderstood. She is there in every nativity play. Many times she is the most central character. Yet once we get past the sweet, sentimental manger scenes, we don't know what to do with Mary.
Many push her back in the closet with the halos, angel wings, shepherds' crooks, and other Christmas props. We won't see or mention her again until November when we start to get ready for next year's Christmas program. But unlike Joseph, in the Bible Mary doesn't disappear after Christmas. She's there all the time. Sometimes front and center, sometimes in the background. She's involved in Jesus' first miracle near the beginning of his ministry. She is there at the end—beneath the cross and at the resurrection. Mary is still there among the faithful disciples praying together after Jesus' ascension. Mary is far more than just a figure in an annual Christmas display.
Too often our approach to Mary is reactionary. We don't want ours to be confused with the Roman Catholic approach. For centuries some Catholics have admired Mary to the point of almost making her into a god. They pray to her, bow before her statue and in some quarters give her more attention than Jesus. Our Catholic friends explain that we mortals have more in common with Mary than we do with Jesus. Therefore it is easier to approach the mother than the Son himself.
Historically, the veneration of Mary was an attempt to counter the appeal of the many pagan goddesses that surrounded the medieval church. Some church leaders suggested that the tempted divert their attention to Mary instead. Eventually the practice evolved Mary to a position as almost a fourth part of the trinity in the minds of some. The Roman church developed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to make her virtually sin free. Some creeds spoke of her as atoning for sins ...
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