The Story We Belong In
My favorite statement from Riccardo’s teaching on Sunday about Mary is thi
She knows the story she belongs in …
If you have been following the True Story Project, you have been reading and hearing the stories of Mary and Joseph’s childhood. These were the stories and laws that shaped their faith and gave them the courage to say “yes” when Gabriel told them that God was going to keep telling his story through their lives in an unimaginably significant way.
Joseph knew the laws about breaking an engagement, but he also knew that all throughout Israel’s history, mercy often won over consequences. So when he heard about Mary’s pregnancy, he decided to divorce her without fanfare. His plan was to keep the whole situation quiet. He would move forward with the grace that YHWH had extended to Israel for generations.
Joseph also knew that the God of his ancestors was not distant, as the gods of other nations were. YHWH was a God who made himself known, and came near to his people. The God of Israel literally communicated with his creation. So when Gabriel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and spoke the ancient promises of Messiah to him—the promise that was to one day be fulfilled through Joseph’s family line—Joseph was ready to believe.
One of Mary’s best-loved stories must have been that of Hannah and baby Samuel (1 Samuel 1). A few years after Samuel’s birth, Hannah took her young son to the tabernacle to offer him to God as a lifelong servant. Her prayer from that day is recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Did Mary memorize those words as a child? Did she sing Hannah’s prayer to her dolls or maybe to a baby cousin, pretending to be this ancient woman of faith?
The words of Hannah’s prayer must have found their way into Mary’s consciousness because when she entered Elizabeth’s home, newly pregnant with Jesus, the words she spoke about her baby were modeled after those in Hannah’s prayer.
What other stories may have made their way into Mary’s requests again and again?
“Daddy, tell me about baby Moses in the basket getting rescued by the princess.”
Was one of Mary’s childhood heroes the brave and beautiful Queen Esther approaching the king to save her people? Did Mary hope to grow up to do brave things for God?
Somehow, the hearing of those stories over and over again wove their way into the formation of Mary’s faith and may even have fostered in her the literal belief that someday God could keep telling his story with her. God loved that about her. He found favor with her. And when he chose her to do something scandalous and brave and, before it was over, unimaginably heartbreaking, without wavering, she gave her answer: “I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38, NIV).
Mary knew that the God who placed the baby in her womb was the God who cared about the oppressed and fed the hungry and lifted up the humble. He had been doing that very thing for generations. The God of justice was bringing his Kingdom to earth, and Mary knew that her part in this story outweighed the risk of rejection and scandal. She was an ordinary teenage girl of faith, planning her wedding, but when heaven stood in her doorway, history was changed because she said “YES.”
“From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:48
Here is the crazy thing: This is the story we belong in. God’s true story of the whole world is still unfolding, and although we have not been called to carry the Savior in our wombs, we have been created to bear his image. And as the church, we have been called to be his dwelling place. So let’s immerse ourselves in his ancient story and live this week with the faith to say “yes” to whatever he puts in front of us to do.