Imitating Mary

2021 Advent Wreath at Church of the Epiphany; Lebanon, TN.
Photo by Katie Rea

Scripture readings:

The Angel Gabriel Appears to Zechariah, Luke 1:5-2:20

The Angel Gabriel Comes to Mary, Luke 1:26-38

In my writing group, I was introduced to vocabulary flash cards which made the word nerd heart of mine shout with glee. Words such as “discombobulate” (confused), “flummox” (to confuse) or “salubrious” (healthful) made the writer in me happy…or should I say made me filled with ineffable joy?  

One word, however, which made me hesitate was the word “emulate.” To emulate is to imitate. Not my favorite word. I prefer originality or uniqueness.

Then, I had this question asked of me: “How can you imitate Mary this holiday season?”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would be someone worthy to emulate.

As a mother and stepmother, I often find myself focusing on Mary’s journey throughout the Christmas season. Not just Mary the saint, though I do focus on this too, but on a young female who was visited by the angel Gabriel.  The young girl who said “yes” to God despite the impossibility of the situation. Gabriel tells her she will give birth to the savior of the world, even though she has not lain with a man. She asked questions of the angel to understand the impossible, but then answered in the affirmative.

Mary answers, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me according to your word.” 

This response shows her perfect faith in God, a belief that even a high priest such as Zechariah couldn’t share.

Zechariah was also visited by Gabriel earlier in the story. He was an educated man who knew the great stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but he lacked faith. He did not believe that God could work through his life. He asked questions desiring proof. Not just to better understand. He refused to believe what the angel had told him. In his old age, he was to have a son. No way. His son, John, was to declare the path of the coming messiah?  Due to Zechariah’s combative attitude, the angel Gabriel silenced him until John the Baptist was born.

I can’t really blame Zechariah. It’s one thing to know the glories of God and an entirely different thing to experience it firsthand. Many times, I have responded in my faith situations more like Zechariah than Mary. I often despair at my lack of faith and my ever-swarming fears.

Yet, the story continues.  Zechariah witnesses the birth of his son, John. He learns of God’s glory and raises his son in obedience to the angel’s instructions. God works through the high priest’s lack of faith.

Mary becomes the Theotokos (the God bearer, Mother of God) and Jesus is born just as the angel proclaimed.

Whether we lack faith or have it in abundance, we can choose to partake in the story God has written for us today.

How can you imitate Mary this season? How can you say, “Yes” to God?

“Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.”

May your obedience in God fill you with ineffable joy.

More information:

The Angel Gabriel Appears to Zechariah, Luke 1:5-2:20

The Angel Gabriel Comes to Mary, Luke 1:26-38

“Trust and Obey” Hymn

*“Trust and Obey” hymn history

100 Great Words Flashcards

Theotokos information

Amy Lyles Wilson

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