by Faith Reboot’s Tanisha Henderson
YouTube and Reality TV shows make nothing we watch worthy of shock anymore.
So when the TV show “Scandal” allowed the main character to lay smiling on a surgeon’s table while having an abortion as the Christmas carol Silent Night blared in the background, the world did not gasp.
But I did.
I don’t watch this show, but I had to watch this scene. I had to see what feelings would rise up in me when watching a woman willingly choose her life as more important than another’s life while listening to a song about the total opposite. A song that celebrates the coming of God in flesh in the form of a baby and through a woman none-the-less who was also not in a perfect predicament to start a family. So many similarities here. Both unwed. Both unprepared. Both taken by surprise. Both considering what others around them would think. Both concerned with doing the best for the baby. But two glaring differences. One had been touched by a man, the other a virgin.
One willing, the other unwilling.
And I wonder, why would God involve such scandal in His nativity story? For such a moment as this TV series finale, perhaps. A virgin teenager? Unwed, yet already betrothed to a man? Poor? Sinner?
Imagine Mary having to tell her parents this. “Mom, Dad, I’m pregnant, but don’t worry. It’s God’s son.” Imagine her telling Joseph. “I promise you, I am a virgin. An angel told me that the Holy Spirit would come upon me and I would become pregnant. You can trust me.”
Imagine her telling her friends. See the side-eye glances. Hear the whispers and the snickers when she would walk by. Feel the guilt and judgement that others tried to place on her. This very absurd story of hers. This story that was given to her by a God who loves her dearly and because she loves Him back, she responds to this request with these words, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.(Luke 1:38)” And I gasp, again, anew, afresh.
And I wonder, would I be so faithful? Would I welcome the ridicule, the accusations, the doubt, the name-calling, the shame falling on me everyday that I walked around.
Do I welcome it now? Is there something that God is commanding me to take on that will make people think less of me?
But maybe, that’s just it.
God is calling me to think less of myself and a big part of that process is being willing to be seen and treated as less, as crazy even. Perhaps the question for me now is the same it was for Mary back then. Is Jesus worth it? I know in my heart that He is, but in my head, I struggle with thinking about all the what ifs and the whatnots.
Mary, Did You Worry?
I wonder, what were Mary’s what-ifs? What if I am ill-equipped to raise the Messiah? What if people don’t believe me? What if people don’t believe Him? What if Joseph leaves me? What if they stone me for adultery? What if I fail at the hardest, yet the most important job of my life? What if God is wrong? What if God isn’t real? What if I need more faith?
And I imagine that God calmed Mary’s what-ifs with the same confident-filled words that He uses to calm mine, “I am that I am.”
And I wonder, what were Mary’s what-nots. If I don’t do this, then what? The people perish. I miss my calling. I reject fulfillment, for false comfort. I refuse the unknown, for false rest in the known. I disobey, and I live my life wondering what might’ve happened if I had obeyed. I miss experiencing a miracle of God. And I imagine the whatnots are what helped Mary to respond with praise to this scandalous offer, “My soul magnifies the Lord.(Luke 1:46)”
And I wonder what Mary would say to the ones who worship, pray to or idolize her? Perhaps she would say the same words she said to the servants about Jesus’ at his first wine-making miracle, “Do whatever He tells you(John 2:5).” Or perhaps she would use the very words that God gives her to describe herself, “servant” and “blessed.” (Luke 1:48) Or maybe she would implore us not to lean on her for help, but to learn from her example.
And lastly, l wonder what if Jesus had been born to a teen girl in 2015? Would she be encouraged to visit Planned Parenthood? Would she be shunned and looked at as promiscuous? Would she be offered a reality show? Would TMZ and paparazzi make her a spectacle? How would we Believers respond? Would we search our bible seeking God for confirmation? Would we doubt the likelihood of God choosing an unwed, poor, teenager to carry the Husband that would make rich the people who were to be called the children of God? Would the scandal be too much for us? Is it too much for us today, to look back on it as such?
Might this be the Christmas where we truly see the full story of Christ’s announcement, development, delivery, and childhood as the definition of scandal that it is. And might God use the feelings that that conjures in us to make us wonder all over again at what kind of God we serve. He is still using the most unlikely of people and circumstances to orchestrate His plan. Might the judgement that arises in us when we see who He chooses for certain things be destroyed as we think on Mary and how easily people did the same thing to her.
Praise God for this season where we extensively focus on His redemption story and the wonder of what each new year of studying this story can awaken in us.
Yes! The wonder of it all!!