So there she was, Mary, a young woman of between 12 and 14 years old. Trying to give her version of the truth to those around her.
“No really, an angel told me I was pregnant.”
“An angel? Mary, really…”
“He said that my baby would be the Savior.”
“She’s either seeing things, or she’s a liar. Either way, Joseph should just rid himself of her.”
You see, the story didn’t match the expectation. Mary was expected to marry Joseph, and after the marriage, they would produce children. Clearly, Mary had not waited for the wedding.
And a Savior? Well the Savior of the nation of Israel was going to save them from the centuries of oppression they had endured. He was going to rule the nations. Certainly, the Savior that God would send wouldn’t be a baby, incapable of even caring for himself. The Savior was to come in power and authority! He was going to overthrow the Romans, he was going to set right the injustices!
And there sat Mary. Perplexed, perhaps ashamed, and at the bottom of the social ladder.
Much like Rahab before her.
Rahab was Jesus’ great…great…great… (many greats later) grandmother. And Rahab—she was a known prostitute.
Used by men, distained by women, and provided no hope to climb out of her surroundings to a place of social standing. There was no safety net in the Jewish society for a woman in the sex profession.
And yet…who is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew? Mary, and Rahab.
In fact, there are a lot of men and women in the Bible who were far from the societal expectation of perfect behavior. And these men and women changed the world. They cared for others, they loved the unloved, they followed hard after God.
Today, one of my closest friends who has a past in the industry, she fell. And she fell hard. She was confined to a cell, and she was knocked down by society from her job loving people to a place of contempt. She was then mistreated, because after all, if you aren’t perfect, you don’t belong. Right?
Wrong. Because none of us are perfect. In the Bible, Sarah didn’t have the patience to wait on God to give her a son, so she told her husband to sleep with her handmaiden. GASP! And yet, Sarah is the mother of the Jewish nation.
God knows we have to live in this life, which is hard. He knows that we are going to do really well some days and really terrible other days. He knows we might be homeless for a while, or maybe we slip back into ways we have left, or maybe we even go to jail. Paul spent time in jail. He was considered the father of the modern non Jewish church!
So don’t watch us. Because we might screw up. In fact, we probably will. We might say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, we might find ourselves at the bottom of a trash heap. We may not live up to the expectations of those we serve, the church, or ourselves. Look to the Christmas baby, Jesus. He was perfect, and he is perfect, and he loves you and me in our imperfection. And maybe, whisper a prayer for us, that when we get knocked down, we have sisters to help us back up again. Because THAT is what the Christmas story is all about…and why Jesus came.
And he still thinks we are amazing.