8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Lk. 2:8-12)
Reflection (Sara Wilhelm Garbers):
In her book, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans wrote that if you pay attention to the women in the midst of Israel’s conquest stories you will see a more complex (and human story). She noted: “Their stories invite the reader to consider the human cost of violence and patriarchy, and in that sense prove instructive to all who wish to work for a better world.”
In the midst of violence and pain, women in the Bible often point to forgotten pathways of wisdom and freedom. Like Ruth and Naomi in the time of Judges, so too Mary presents a powerful counter to the way that one would expect God to enter the world. And therein is an invitation to all of us to remember, that the way God comes in Jesus isn’t through power or by might, but in humility and vulnerability.
This message of life can also be scary. I have spent a lifetime ensuring I will not be vulnerable or weak. I have built up defenses and accomplishments enough to prove that I am worthy of God’s and your love. But in our sister Mary, I am—and we are— invited to remember that God’s love and power is birthed through our liminality. As II Corinthians 4 reminds us: “We have these treasures in earthen vessels to remind us that the power is from God and not from us.”
We are vulnerable. We are grieving. We are in pain. And we are often afraid. Mary is an invitation to bring our vulnerability, our grief, our hurt, and our fear to the manger. And there we discover a new way to live as ones who, like Mary, birth the kingdom of Emmanuel in our world.
Where are you feeling vulnerable?
God, meet our brokenness with your brokenness, encounter us and comfort us, and share our life that we might share in yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.