Ordinary Mary

Ordinary Mary

The very first sermon I ever preached was called “Ordinary Mary.” It explored the Annunciation of Mary, when God asked an ordinary girl to play an extraordinary part in healing the world (Luke 1:26-56). As a fourteen-year-old young woman, I was fascinated with this God who would invite people like me into such plans.

It was and is still important to me today to emphasize the human-ness of Mary, her ordinariness. Her story bears much hope and power, but only if she is not immaculately conceived, “born [especially] pure,” or whatever else nonsense folks have put on her over the centuries of church argument.

Put plainly, they have been trying to figure out what to do with a woman so intimately involved in the redemption of the world.

Mary being a woman is not enough for some theologies. Their deficient doctrines of original sin gets in the way; Mary has to be immaculately conceived in order to be holy enough to get pregnant with God. But not only does this not have to be true, it misses the point of the incarnation. God became flesh and dwelt among us. The scripture does not say God became “perfected flesh” or “oddly pure” flesh. The Word became flesh, period, of a woman who just so happened to get one every month.

Mary’s story bears its intriguing and liberating lesson if Mary is just Mary—a human female chosen to be the mother of God, chosen to birth Jesus into the world.

"Peace on Earth Begins at Birth"

"Peace on Earth Begins at Birth"

“Peace on earth begins at birth.”

I heard this quote somewhere years ago. It is a fairly popular refrain among female activists and birth-givers. I thought it referred to “calm,” “soothing,” or “natural” birth practices, or, I don’t know, trying not to make the baby cry. I thought it was about the baby’s experience.

However, my experience of finishing Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth on Good Friday and then going to services—all during peak ovulation and its brave hope—brought out a different and deeper meaning that extends and encompasses the baby’s experience, the mother’s, and, indeed, the whole human community.

If we truly respected women (or “womben”), life-making, and life-giving, there could be peace on earth. If we truly recognized and honored the sacred nature of the birthing process, the holy passage of it all, how could anyone move to diminish or destroy creation, that which came through such a sacred course? If we understood and honored all of the hope and tears and spiritual labor that went into one child—how could we ever take that person from this world, either with one bullet or hundreds of denied opportunities? How could anyone destroy a mother’s child? Someone who has come though the sacred gates?

For my dog's Good Samaritan - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 54

For my dog's Good Samaritan - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 54

This week I am grateful…

1

For my Dallas-dwelling, dog-loving Good Samaritan.

Last Friday afternoon our Barkley-boy went missing. I had let him out into our fenced backyard to play for a while in the sunshine. Just under an hour went by before I went to let him back into the house…and he was. not. there.

Heart in my throat and absolute shock in my brain, I started calling for him, looking for him, and checking all of his favorite spots. No Barkley, but I did find a side-gate standing wide open. A gate I did not even know we had. The church yardmen had accidently left it open that morning.

In panic and despair I darted down the street—in loungewear and socked-feet!—calling for my buddy. I texted the neighbors I knew. One neighbor I did not know came out of his house willing to help.

And then the phone rang, an unknown number, which I answered promptly not with “Hello” but “Is this about my dog? Are you calling about my dog?”

“Yes, ma’am—I have a Good Samaritan on the line who has found your dog!”

Barkley has an identification chip, thanks to the Humane Society. Our Good Samaritan found Barks in the shopping center across one of the busiest streets in Dallas (makes me queasy just thinking about it). The man had stopped at the pet store there to buy treats for his own dogs when he saw Barkley weaving around cars with his nose toward Boston Market. He quickly made friends with Barks, had his chip read at the vet nearby, and ended up on the phone with me minutes later.

Dave was his name.

Dave said he would drive Barkley right over to my house, so I quickly got dressed (somehow still missing my shoes!) while a neighbor kept vigil in the yard.

When Dave’s truck came to a stop Barkley bounded happily back to me, looking like he had just had the most amazing adventure ever. Our Good Samaritan gave Barkley a treat, told me I had a very special dog, and said he could tell Barkley was very well loved.

I hugged the man, took Barkley inside, and did not stop vibrating with gratitude, fear, and relief for hours.

Thankful for the utter kindness of that man Dave. Y’all, he did not have to do one bit of what he did. He could have just turned his head and crossed to the other side.

But something invited him to go out of his way for our beloved critter.

Humbled by this stranger’s acquaintance with Love.

Seven Gratitudes--continues!

Seven Gratitudes--continues!

Such deliberation has been going on in my mind today on this 12th day of Christmas! Should this weekly gratitude roundup continue this year, or no? Has its time come and gone? Is it finished with me, or is that a call I hear to the keyboard? Hmmm...Seems like there is just no way to stop a gratitude practice, so #SevenGratitudes continues! I hope to dabble in many topics here at For the Birds in the year ahead, but the gratitudes really have to keep on rolling. I see no way around it.

Grateful for each of you who stop by every week. Thankful for your texts, messages, and comments. I appreciate your presence and participation--such support and nourishment to my heart! 

Thanks for being here, beloveds!

Seven Gratitudes, vol. 52

Seven Gratitudes, vol. 52

This week I am grateful…

1

For tortilla soup on Christmas Eve.

Between the 5 and 11 o’clock Christmas Eve services on Sunday Pastor Mark and Alison had a whole gaggle of folks over for soup and stories, making much out of that window of time. Even the memory of it now warms my heart. It was simple, really, but good. It felt special, but also quite normal.

It was the beginning of Christmas.