So we arrive all too soon at the final Sunday of Advent - a season which, this year, is almost as short as possible, lasting just over three weeks. Today we traditionally recall Mary's "yes" to Gods' preposterous... question? request? demand?
Who in their right mind would put their life at risk in such a way? At best she would be cast out to live a hand-to-mouth existence as she struggled to raise this illegitimate child; at worst as soon as her pregnancy could no longer be hidden, she would slowly, painfully and publicly executed by stoning, her unborn child dying with her. Now, we can leap in and say, 'ah but God would never allow that'... no? Then it wasn't much of a risk for God then, was it?
Fifteen years ago, give or take, I offered my own 'yes' to God's call on my life. A call that is as nothing compared to that issued to Mary. No one was going to execute me for claiming a call to ordained ministry (though they could, and sometimes did, make life unpleasant). No one was going to cast me aside saying "well, you've made your bed, now you must lie in it" if it all went horribly long, and in any case I had plenty of transferable - an eminently commercial - skills.
In theory I oculd have said 'no'. And, for that matter, so could Mary. No thanks God, the price is too high, the risk too great, my plans and dreams too important to me...
For me the call was unequivocal - there was no optoin but to say 'yes'. I venture to suggest the same may have been the case for Mary.
Often I think it is as well I had no idea what the outworking of God's call on my life would look like (will still turn out to look like). I also think how essential it is that the conviction was utter - that there was no other answer possible. I suspect these were so for Mary too, only probably much, much more so.
I remember the day you called my name -
So clear, so urgent, so undeniably real.
I remember the bewilderment and delight,
The anxiety and the certainty
I couldn't know then what I know now -
Could only dream of what the future might bring,
And fear how it could all go horribly wrong.
But I offered you my unhesitating, trusting 'yes'.
I walk in the shadow of your mother -
A woman who risked everything for you,
A woman to whom you entrusted everything...
A woman who said 'here I am, at your service.'
Jesus, Son of God,
Jesus, Son of Mary,
Help me serve you too