Focus – After ‘Amen’ and ‘Allelujah,’ What?

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Anne Pickup

By Major Anne Pickup – 

Each Christmas season I am reminded of the connection I feel to Mary, the mother of Jesus. This connection began 24 years ago, after I had given birth to my first born, also a son. Once again considering the connection, I am intrigued by Mary’s response to the gift given her.

When the angel came to Mary announcing she was favored by God and chosen to bear the Messiah, her response was:

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

Amen!…is the simplest translation. Amen, a common reaction of many soon-to-be-mothers, but not all, especially those dealing with the reality of bearing a child out of wedlock. But, Mary’s reaction was, amen…so be it!

Her second reaction was allelujah!

“My soul magnifies – says allelujah! – to the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)

Even in the face of ridicule, rejection, and possible death by stoning, Mary praised God for the gift of a son.

But, after the amen and allelujah, what? What responses followed as Mary embraced the reality of the gift entrusted to her?

Waiting is part of the gift

Following Mary’s acceptance of the gift, an even more difficult work began–waiting. Even in an uncomplicated pregnancy the wait is hard. Mary had the usual nine months to wait before giving birth to God’s gift to the world.

It’s possible that Mary’s example of waiting developed the Jewish proverb: “When you discover a new way of serving the Lord, carry it around for nine months, under your heart.”

Many are the times that waiting follows the giving of a direction or calling. King David waited years from his anointing as king to actually receiving the crown. Even Jesus didn’t begin his life mission until 30 years of age. Mary’s waiting, even if imposed, reminds us that sometimes patiently waiting is part of the fulfillment of the gift promised by God.

The gift becomes the work

Mary knew who Jesus was. She heard the words of the angel…”He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…God will give him the throne of his father David…his kingdom will never end.” Mary believed all these things, and waited, but she was not idle.

Jesus was a member of a family with brothers, sisters and parents. He was influenced and molded by his home environment as Mary and Joseph guided him, molding his character, teaching him the ways of God, and instructing him in relationships. And Mary performed the usual motherly chores: serving meals, weaving cloth, laundering tunics, keeping the house.

“The gift becomes the work,” is an old German saying. As Mary fulfilled her role as parent she cooperated with God in developing the child who would become the gift of salvation to the world. Her example helps us see that sometimes God’s gifts to us become our work for him.

During the Christmas season, let us consider the possibility that waiting and working are integral aspects of accepting and developing the gifts God gives to us.

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