But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him. —1 Corinthians 1:27-29, NIV
GOD’S ELECTION IS A PECULIAR THING. He seems to favor the inglorious, the unremarkable. I am grateful. There are countless examples of this throughout Scripture. Israel is one. David is another. Anointed as a boy, it would be years before David actually ruled anything, including himself. And I won’t comment on David’s breeding rites, or his tireless quest for connubial beatitude, but you’ve got to love the guy. If he is messy, and he is, he is also glorious. If he is a man of blood, he is also a poet of the first order. If he is untamed, if he is a bit uncivilized, he is also a man after God’s own heart. The irony is delicious.
But this post is not about Israel or David. It’s about a girl. Mary of Nazareth. And not the mother of Jesus just yet, but the unsuspecting young girl from an obscure southern town, the pre-Gabriel pre-Joseph Mary. When I think about our unfinished sanctuary, especially as it is being prepared for occupancy, this is the Mary that comes to mind. If you have an eye for metaphor or for the prophetic resonance of the Word, you can trace her presence throughout Scripture.
Her shadow is everywhere.
And Mary wasn’t chosen because she was perfect or had led a perfect life. Election doesn’t work that way. We do her a disservice, I think, to assume otherwise. Indeed, it is her plainness that comforts me, that sweetens the invitation to come inside.
To this maiden church, the church in preparation, I say:
• Be kind to your children. Point them to Christ, in whom alone is salvation. Teach them how to discover Jesus, to seek comfort and refuge in the very name itself. Teach them how to trust the Jesus in you.
• Do not hoard God or tangle him up in obscurities. Teach them how to listen. For he wraps his command in the tender folds of a love song. Refine the ear. Teach them how to speak to God, how to sing to God, how to ponder these things in the heart.
• Preach the Word. Be liberal with our daily bread. Do not be shy with the Scripture. Again, preach the Word. Give it first voice. Give it headship among you and the first seat of counsel.
This is how I choose to remember her—in her maiden weeds—before she is enthroned, before she is elevated beyond my reach or before access gets confused. By the way, if you read some high church Mariolatry in this post, read it again. Look at the picture above and you will see a shadow. I’m not sure I noticed it at first, but I see it now and it’s growing on me.