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Confused about Mary? You’re not alone. Some have placed her on a pedestal, others have treated her with neglect, while the rest aren’t quite sure what to do with her. That makes her one of the most misunderstood characters in the Bible.
It’s understandable. After a starring role in the Christmas story, Mary makes just a few cameo appearances along the way. In response, some have rushed in and filled the gap with a confusing mixture of exaggerations and legend. While others, worried they’ll give her too much attention, have let her fade into the background.
Sure, some have taken things with Mary too far. But equally true is that others have not gone far enough. From now through the end of January, we’ll be looking at the life of Mary; not just the Christmas part we’re so familiar with, but her entire story. Along the way we’ll separate legend from fact and uncover the story of this remarkable woman and the extraordinary role she played in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Mary was a great example of faith and faithfulness. She carried Jesus to birth, then raised him. She heard him teach, watched him heal, and never doubted he could do the miraculous. She was fiercely loyal to Jesus all the way to the end. She never deserted him, even when Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and the rest fled and went into hiding. So she was there when he took his last breath, and again on Sunday morning when he rose from the dead.
But her most important legacy was her simple faith. Was Mary devout? Probably. Was she pure in heart? Sure. But that wasn’t the point.
You see, God didn’t chose her because she aced the Messiah Mommy ACT. Mary was convinced this great honor had come to her by the sheer grace of God. That is why, after the angel left, she sang not about how great she was, but how great was her God.
The same is true with us. God is still showing up, telling people everywhere, us included, “you are highly favored,” and inviting us to respond in faith.
John Sommerville - Senior Pastor
The automobile tycoon Henry Ford once famously said, “history is more or less bunk.” Why look back when you can look forward? Get busy making history rather than reading stories of those long dead and gone?
Fair enough, except that sometimes the stories of the past are the very thing that inspires us for the future. A man named Luke had a front-row seat during the early days of the Christian church. Like an investigative reporter, he had already captured the story of the life of Jesus into a biography we now have in the New Testament.
But Luke had a second book in him, a book about the early Christian church. The church grew, Luke believed, by the will and purpose of God in fulfillment of promises God made years before. His is an encouraging story, of how from a handful of Jesus followers in a single church, this movement spread beyond geographic, ethnic and racial boundaries. The message, that salvation is found in Jesus, raised from the dead and ascended to heaven, changed lives and communities everywhere it went. And the catalyst for all this change, Luke believed, was the power of the Holy Spirit, the gift Jesus left with the church when he ascended into heaven.
It’s an inspirational story and raises interesting questions for us today, none more important than this: How can we, at City Church, capture today something of the confidence, enthusiasm, vision, and power these early Christians and their leaders had? It’s a question we will explore in the weeks to come.