September 22, 2020

The Handmaid

Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your Servant; save the Son of your handmaid.
Ps 86:16 

I'm a pretty committed Protestant, and so even a hint of the adoration of Mary is something I tend to avoid. But Christians have traditionally interpreted this section of Psalm 86 as a messianic prayer for deliverance from death, and that God's answer to the prayer was resurrection. I don't expect non-Christians to buy into this interpretation, but it is where I personally can enter into the psalm. If the Servant praying this prayer is the Anointed of God, then the handmaid spoken of as his mother must of necessity be Mary.

Mary, the handmaid of God, delivered the Christ to the world. And this handmaid was not the reticent individual we too often imagine her to be. She was a courageous prophet of God who, when she was recognized by her cousin Elizabeth as the mother of Messiah, spoke these words (Luke 1:46-55): 
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
I still don't believe that Mary is to be adored or prayed to—any more than Elijah or Isaiah or Jeremiah should be adored or prayed to—but I do believe we should study her words and follow her example.

And we should also think about how the church is Mary's successor in the world: The servant of God, and the carrier of Christ delivering him to the world. Though I may not want to set up images of Christ's mother in the sanctuary of my church, I can pause when I see such an image elsewhere and let God remind me of who she really was, and what rĂ´le she can still play in the life of the believer.

Thank you for your church and my place in it. May you acknowledge me as its member, even as I acknowledge to you my servanthood. May your daughter Mary's prayer be my own: Here am I, your servant, Lord; let it be with me according to your word. I pray this in the Name of her Son and yours, who taught me to pray: Our Father...

Here is my favorite rendition of the prophetic song (the Magnificat) I quoted above...

No comments:

Post a Comment