Above photo painted by Liz Lemon Swindle. Entitled “She Shall Bring Forth a Son”

Every year, I promise to make it more about Jesus.

Every year, I say we’ll purchase less gifts or commit to buying fair trade.

Every year, I insist I won’t become the wild-haired Medusa ready to pounce on the very people I love the most because my to-do list is just so long and I’m just so tired.

And every year, I could do better.

There’s been progress – very imperfect progress. But I still have a ways to go before I can truly say I look forward to the season of Jesus’ birth.

Of course, it’s not personal. I adore Jesus. It’s just all the other stuff that goes along with the season that stresses me out.

I suspect I’m not alone. There are over 80 of you who have chosen to study Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehemwith us.

As first-world citizens, it’s so easy to allow our culture’s expectations to invade our sense of peace during the holidays. We allow glossy ads and the promise of “two for one” deals to monopolize our excited thoughts and before we know it, we find ourselves overwhelmed, over-scheduled and over-tired.

Instead of being overwhelmed by what needs to be done, God would want us to be overwhelmed by our love for His son.

Instead of being over-scheduled, I’m certain God would want us to embrace margin, to have enough wiggle-room in our schedules to stop and truly love our neighbors as ourselves.

And instead of being over-tired, I’m absolutely certain God would want us to rest in His gift by taking care of ourselves and listening to our physical needs rather than trying to do it all to the point of exhaustion.

Sound familiar? Me too, sister. Me too.

The first chapter of Adam Hamilton’s book Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem begins with the end. Typical Advent studies start with the events leading up to Jesus’ birth; however, this study begins with Mary’s death and moves backwards.

Of course, this is somewhat difficult because there isn’t much said about Mary after Jesus’ resurrection.

There are, however, accounts of traditions that developed in the church during the centuries following her death. One account is told from the Roman Catholic Church and another is told from the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Both churches celebrate Mary’s death on August 15 – Roman Catholics call this the “Feast of the Assumption” while Eastern Orthodox Christians call this the “Feast of Dormition.”

The Roman Catholic Church believes Mary’s body was “taken up” to heaven shortly after her burial because this was a special way God honored those who were righteous (think Enoch and Elijah.)

The Eastern Orthodox believe she died (they use the words “fell asleep”) and three days later, was taken up to heaven. The Latin word for sleep is “dormitio” so hence the name “The Feast of the Dormition.”

Regardless of the specifics, I admit I’ve never given Mary’s death much thought.

But when I do, I think of a woman who was so obedient she simply said “May it be so” when an angel sent by God told her of an outlandish plan. I think of a woman who fled to her dear cousin and friend, Elizabeth, for encouragement in this strange but true task.

And I think of a woman whose heart was broken into so many pieces it was probably hard just to breathe at times.

Mary lost a child when her son said “It is finished.”

Those who have lost children live with a haunting pain that dulls over time but never goes away. As one of my friends who lost her six-year-old daughter once said, “I will never get over her death. I will smile and be happy again but getting over it just won’t ever happen.”

I’m certain Mary never “got over” the death of her beloved son.

But what did Mary do with herself from the time Jesus ascended until she joined Him in heaven?

She was building the church by taking her Son’s commandment to make disciples of all nations seriously. She was likely praying without ceasing. She was sharing the gospel. She was building the community of believers who would be united by her Son.

She was a mother fueled by passion.

Sort of like the mother who loses a child to a drunk driver and volunteers passionately for M.A.D.D. Or the mother who has lost a baby born prematurely and devotes herself to the mission of the March of Dimes. Or the mother whose baby died of an epileptic seizure and works wholeheartedly to further the mission of C.U.R.E.

A mother who has lost a child is energized and emblazoned by the mission of justice. The mission of ensuring her precious baby did not die in vain. The mission of doing exactly what her child would have wanted her to do.

The mission of loving all children – not just her child.

Mary was spreading the gospel and building the church because it’s what her Son told her to do and it would honor His supreme sacrifice.

Fueled by passion and ignited by love. Sounds like a mother to me.

So today, let’s answer however many of the questions below you want to answer in the comment section:

1. What did you learn about Mary in this first week?

2. What do you love most about Mary?

3. What is something that stood-out to you in this week’s chapter?

Also, each week I’ll issue a challenge for us . . . This week’s challenge is to be intentional about showing love at least once a day. It could be having extra patience with your children when you are DONE. It could be spending time with a lonely friend at the nursing home. It could be as simple as making sure you stop what you’re doing when your husband comes home to give him a hug and ask about his day (and if you work later than he does, go to him first before looking at the mail. :))

We’ll discuss Chapter Two next Monday. Don’t forget about our chat on Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. in the Facebook group. No worries if you can’t make it – you can participate if and when your schedule allows!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This