December 24, 2010

The Dinner Conversation

You know that parlor game, the one where you name the people you would most like to have dinner with? They can be living or dead, so it's often overwhelming to think of all the people who could make your list, and consequently they tend to be from the last couple of hundred years. Oh, sure, lots of people throw Jesus into the mix, but other than that, you'll often hear names like Lincoln, Churchill, and JFK.

Recently I have found myself thinking it would be fascinating to have a dinner conversation with Mary. Yes, THAT Mary. The Mary who doesn't often generate much in the way of curiosity among Southern Baptists, such as myself. We cover that angelic visitation thing with Gabriel and Mary's subsequent visit to her older cousin Elizabeth, who also found herself in the midst of a miraculous pregnancy, but then there's that whole stable scene where the angels and the shepherds seem to dominate as the baby in the manger takes center stage.

After that, Mary is relegated to a supporting player role with a few cameo scenes and her primary purpose seems to be to move the storyline along. Lately, I have found myself wondering, "What was she thinking?" At various points in the life of Jesus I am curious about how much she knew.

If I could talk to her, I would start with that visit from Gabriel.

"Mary, when he said, 'Do not be afraid,' were you really able to not be afraid?"

"And when he told you the purpose of his visit, did you think you were imagining things? Were you able to so calmly respond with, 'May it be to me as you have said,' because you thought it was a dream?"

"When did it become real to you? Was it when you saw Elizabeth in her sixth month? Was it when you began to feel the baby moving in your own womb? Was it in Bethlehem when you realized you weren't even going to have the dignity of a room at the inn in which to give birth to your first child? Did you long for the presence of your mother or any another woman to hold your hand and give you moral support?"

"Were you afraid then? Did God at least spare you the pain of childbirth, or was yours the most painful of all? Did you feel the full power of this cosmic mystery as you gave birth?"

"What was Jesus like growing up? Was he like any other child up to a point, or was he always different? Was it when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to talk to the teachers that you first saw the signs that he was not like other children or were there signs before that?"

"Were you surprised that he took up carpentry, like Joseph, or did you always expect that? Did you spend your life waiting for the other shoe/sandal to drop, wondering at what point God would take him from your home to use him for greater things?"

"Did you know that once his ministry began, he would no longer belong to you? Or had you always felt that he didn't belong to you? Were you surprised by the stories of healings, or had you seen evidence of his power before? Did he ever whip up dinner when there was nothing in the pantry?"

"Did it break your heart to hear the derogatory things that some people said about him, or had you been prepared for that? Did you know where this was headed? Did you expect him to sit on an earthly throne or did you always know how it would end? Was it a rolling revelation, or did the reality of his calling come to you for the first time on that awful Friday afternoon when the sun went dark?"

"Did he spend time with you and your family after the resurrection? What did he say to you? Did you understand it then, or was it years later that it began to make sense? Or did it ever fully make sense to you in this life?"

As Christmas Eve comes, it never ceases to amaze me to think of all the preparation it took in order for the pieces to come together in Bethlehem that night so long ago, or of the willing hearts that had to be open enough to say, "May it be to me as you have said."

May you feel the power of the risen Christ in your life on this day, and every day.

Until next time,

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” ~ Luke 1:30-33


  1. this is an eloquently written piece filled with all
    the questions i would, too, like to ask.

    here's a question: when we get to heaven, will
    we be able to ask her there?

    merry Christmas,

  2. Great question, Lea. I often wonder if we'll still have the same questions in heaven, or will it all be clear? Or will our questions be forgotten in the face of the Majesty and the Glory?

  3. Thank you Margaret...what a wonderful Christmas present to open this morning and one that certainly puts my focus where it needs to be!

  4. I love the first question you asked her. "Where you really NOT afraid?" So many of the mediations I have heard about Mary have focused on the way she said "Yes" to the angle without question. The idea that she never once faulterd in her resolve to be God's vessle is so prominate in scripture, but I can't help but wonder what it was she was "pondering in her heart." Those are the things I would really like to know about. "What did you ponder Mary?"

    Great post and a great Chrsitmas gift. Thank you Margaret!

  5. Those are all thought-provoking questions Margaret. Answers that we may never know, but that spark unshakable faith and belief.

    A lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings to you during this beautiful season of reflection and renewal.

  6. Incredibly insightful post, Margaret. I've wanted to know Joseph's story for a very long time so I'd want to talk with him as well. Mary is amazing, isn't she? When she was told in the temple that a sword would pierce her soul...what does one do with a prophesy like that?!

  7. I've wondered about that prophecy, too. Did Mary dismiss it or was it a burden that she carried with her always? I like to think that youth worked in her favor and she kept it buried in the furthest reaches of her mind.