I was thinking about what I could post was my favorite item this Friday. A piece of holiday swag or a great gift. I started to reflect on some of the traditions that I’ve been intentional about in my own family. My kids are now 9, 7 and 5 and they get it.
Whether it is their ages or the age that they live in, they know what is going on around them and they don’t miss much. If there is one way I’ve tried to treat these three children, it is with respect. Respect for their feelings and ideas and thoughts and tantrums. I want to know about the things that make them happy and what makes them cry. I do believe that if we show these little humans serious respect, resepect that we often reserve for adults, they will make smarter choices and feel better about themselves. I want to honor my kids in this way and I believe I see the fruit of it in the way that they in turn treat others, feel about themselves and are able to be creative and thoughtful in their own small world.
In this light, I want to introduce more that just Elf on the Shelf at Christmas time. I want to talk about Mary. Who is this woman that we put in our little manger on our counter top. She is wearing dull pink and covers her head but we know very little about her. Last week I introduced The Nativity Story. (Note: the actor that plays Joseph is in the new Star Wars movie – in case that fact makes you more interested.)
If you have not seen this movie, I would encourage you to sit down with your family or yourself and take the 90 minutes to view Mary and her whole story in its real light. It will change the way you think. It will bring to light the shame that this young girl felt being pregnant before she was properly married. It was scandelous. It was something that could happen this day and age that would seiously cause a family to reject their daughter and disown her; throw her out of the house and shame her in many cases. Oh, how perfect. Her pregnancy cast her in a really negative light to her religious family, one that in most cases would have caused her to be executed. And this is how God chose to have it play out. He wanted it to buck the norm, to challenge the super-duper religious people and to make the statement that even the most righteous, church-going people have got it all wrong. They were clueless.
What does that say about those uber Christians today? The ones that shame and make others feel badly and judge and criticize? This story tells us that they are all phonies. That is does not take church and rituals. It just takes faith in believing in the impossible. And those that do not show love and kindness will be brought down and be put in their place. HA! Take that!
Mary means that the rules are wrong. Mary means that love, kindness and faith are the only things that matter. And even if everything looks backwards, judgement is never the message. The message is always love. Thank God. Because if Mary was judged and almost executed for carrying the Son of God because others did not get it – then maybe there is hope for me. Maybe it is not what others think or how things seem. Maybe it is only important what God thinks about me. And what I know about God is that the greatest message is and will always be love. Phew.