Some bargains look better than others. Recently, at a consignment shop, I was drawn to a gorgeous Nativity set of tall, willowy statutettes, gilded with gold.
That they were half-off because Christmas was over made them even more attractive.
Of course, because this was a used Nativity set, some pieces were missing — generally this is acceptable as there is no requisite number of shepherds, and if Joseph’s gone you can replace him with one of the wise men. Even baby Jesus is pretty much a box with a small figurine within.
The one member of the Nativity set that you absolutely cannot do without, however, is the poorest, youngest, least influential, who happens to be the only female, so you can’t “replace” her with anyone else in the set.
Mary. And as that was the one who was missing from this not so incredible bargain, I gave it a pass. I don’t care how many rich leaders are standing around, if Jesus’ mom is not there, neither is Jesus. She’s an indispensable component of the First Christmas.
We Know Little about Mary
The Bible tells us very little about Mary. Luke Chapter 1 tells us that she was greatly troubled about the angel Gabriel’s visit, but was reassured that she had “found great favor with God.” The strongest impression we receive of her is that she was humble, trusting, and worshipful of her God. (Mary’s song, Luke 1: 46-56)
Through the years, Mary has been either exalted or ignored by various groups and religions, but here’s an interesting thought:
She was poor. Societally, she was a nobody. While she came from a lineage of kings, it didn’t buy her a decent hotel room. If she were part of an evangelical church today, she’d be allowed to teach children’s church, but let’s be honest here: most churches are so desperate to get teachers for children that they’ll forgo the usual leadership inculcation sessions and take the nobodies in the congregation; it’s when the nobodies want to chair the coveted Baby Shower Committee that the rules kick in.
Young, Ordinary, Overlooked
However, she wouldn’t be able to teach men. To be fair, a lot of men aren’t allowed to teach men, unless they have a degree or have gone through the leadership sessions and been awarded titular authority.
But this same woman, who would be just an ordinary nobody in a large, or even small, congregation, gave birth to the Son of God. Later, she was integral in the performance of Jesus’ first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-11).
“‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied, ‘My time has not yet come.’
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
This woman knew, and had complete faith in, the Son of God. Given her unique life experience, she was probably the first one. Because she treasured up a lot of things, and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19), she would be a far better person to sidle next to at a cocktail party and talk about the Messiah than any number of teachers, scribes, Pharisees, leaders of the law and pastors with doctoral degrees.
But nobody would ask her, because she looks like a nobody.
Are You a Nobody?
There are a lot of nobodies in today’s churches, ordinary people who love their families, live their lives, go to their (secular) jobs, and are constantly being targeted by the leadership sect for aggressive “discipling.” Surely we are not too dumb, somehow, to open up the Bible for ourselves, read what it says, and close our eyes and talk to God — with whom, let us not forget, we have a direct line through the Holy Spirit that lives within us.
God doesn’t make nobodies. What He does do is single out people to do His good work, not based upon their appearance or height, for
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7)
My dear friend, if you walk through life wishing that you could be somebody important, do something worthwhile, but head home discouraged every Sunday morning because you’re just a nobody, remember the Nativity set. The kings are opulent, but the center stage is taken up by a baby, a workingman, and a mom.
I’m a Nobody
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. I am a nobody who likes to write and does so with a reasonable level of competency. I am also an outcast from establishment Christianity, writing to and for people like me: seekers, and finders, of truth who are subtly told each day that we are not good enough, smart enough, faithful enough, or spiritual enough to do God’s work, because we choose not to follow man’s rules.
I may or may not reach you. That I and my family choose not to attend weekly church services may be enough to turn many away, but if you are one of the eschewed sheep, be encouraged that you are a very valuable member of God’s flock. Stand tall. Speak to God. Grow in His wisdom and His love, and recognize that He has work for you to do.
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