I have grown up very much as a Protestant. Through the years I have grown to appreciate the Roman Catholic Church. That being said, I have always felt uneasy about the Roman Catholic view of Mary. I was taught to be suspicious and did not want to see Mary as a mediator. So rather than risk heresy and error in some ways I became dismissive of the Mother of God. I think a lot of protestants feel this way and in doing so we do not honor Mary as we should.
She is Highly Favored among women. Her part in salvation history is significant. Mary seems fearless in in the birth narratives. She prays what I have come to call a Dangerous Prayer when she responds to the news that she will bear the Messiah saying, Be it unto me as you have said. My friend, Dr. Carla Waterman, has written much about Mary and commented to me one day about the last words we hear from Mary’s lips in the Gospels are an instruction given to the servants at the Wedding at Cana (John 2) Do whatever He tells you to do. Dr. Waterman went on to see this as an externalization of Mary’s own prayer when she received the news from the Angel. Either one puts us in a place of surrender and obedience when we pray and respond. That is worth thinking about. Mary became Theotokos, that is God bearer. She bore God into this world and her womb cuddled the Infinite until that Christmas morning. For that she is blessed.
In the same way when we come to Christ, repenting and believing we too become a Theotokos, we bear God in our lives for the world to see. A Christian by prayers, practice, devotion, servanthood, giving is to walk in a sacramental manner, mediating the presence of Christ to the world in which we live. Because Christ has taken up residence in our hearts, we become a new creation that brings Christ to our family, our neighbors, our friends; a mediation of God’s grace and love through us to a broken, lost and hurting world. This is the way it should be. We often fail. Amidst the recent cultural debates on religions, I saw this sign…
They are right. In Christ we are given an opportunity to share His love with those who need it – to see the Kingdom of God expand into this world one heart at a time when Jesus enters a life. This verse of the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem captures this aspect of our redemption. May we know and welcome the coming of Jesus just as Mary did.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!