Mary.

Merry Christmas, y'all!  

Advent this year has been so sweet.  Slow in the right ways.  Worshipful and aware, deeply aware, of the hope that is founded in the fact that redemption was made possible because of this babe that came down.  The Word made flesh.

I've spent this season walking through the She Reads Truth Advent study and it has been good for my soul to spend quiet moments most mornings grounding myself in the Truth of the Gospel and really walking through what Jesus came to do here on Earth and the specific and perfect ways He fulfills the role of prophet, priest and king.  For the last week we just read scripture leading up to Jesus' birth and I was overwhelmed by Mary this year.  I can't seem to get her out of my head and I can't help but write here about the way that I have viewed her this year.  First, it started with reading about the angel revealing God's plan to Mary.  From that day's devotional a couple of things stick out.  First, Mary's Son would be great, but in the eyes of the world she no longer would be.  In agreeing to the Lord's plan, she gave up every ounce of worldly identity and pride and image.  The devotional went on to say:  "sometimes God strips away our worldly identity in the process of giving us heavenly ones" and "trusting God means being willing to lose what I call valuable in exchange for what He calls good." .  Y'all. This is good.  Women need to hear this - I need to hear this.

I can't seem to get it out of my head how Mary lost her worldly value and identity in bringing Hope to the world.  And then this, "there was no room for them in the inn".  It may really have been that there were no rooms but I have a feeling I've been reading it wrong all along.  I'd venture to say it was more than "our rooms are all full" and more like "we don't have room for someone like you".  Did people choose not to make room like they would for someone "important" because she was deemed "less than", a pregnant, unwed woman? 

So often that can be us - leaving no room for Jesus because we make room for so many other things.  We stiff-arm Jesus when we see an opportunity for something valuable --- more money, more sleep, a higher position at work or socially. 

And then there's the concept of the least of these.  I'd say unwed mother during those days fit the category.  What do I do with that verse?  You know, the one about caring for the least of these...Ignore it?  Justify that I'm a part of a church that does something about it?  See my kids as the least of these (in their warm beds and trendy clothes) ?  Or, do I realize, fully, deeply realize when I care for those in need, when I go out of my way to love on people different than me (or really, just the same --- we'll get there in a minute), when I look the lady in the eye who asks me for money, when I offer to pray with someone desperately needing Hope --- I'm going face-to-face with Jesus.  I'm interacting with God made flesh.  I want to live it, breathe it, come face-to-face with my Savior. 

Let's not forget that the least of these is me.  And it's you.  We may all live in different places, use different modes of transportation, fall into different tax brackets, have different understanding of "need" but we are all equally broken, equally sinful, equally in need of the Savior of this world.  The one who came to us through one of "the least of these".

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"  --Matthew 25:40