Mary the Pregnant Young Teen: Advent 2020 Week 1
Sunday, November 29, 2020: Advent Day 1:
That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you. The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
— 1 Corinthians 1:5-9, (CEB)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Status in God's Realm:
God alone chooses status and bestows gifts. The church thrives when it embraces the gifts given to her holistically. Both for men and for women, for children, and for the most “lowly”, “weak” or “foolish”. No one is excluded from the gifts God gives individuals as a part of the church. The church can only thrive fully when this reality is recognized and celebrated.
God inverts our understanding of social hierarchy in the season of Advent. As we wait expectantly for God to show up in surprising ways, we recognize the path of faith isn’t usually clear and is often terrifying.
Reflect & Meditate:
This advent we will study Mary, Jesus’ mother and her various identities. We will begin by reflecting on her experience as a pregnant young teenager. By today's standards, she would still be considered a child. She was a refugee living amid a genocide, unwed and pregnant and without any guarantee of security or safety apart from her trust and faith in God's promises. By the world's standards, her situation is terrifying. If we could hear her story first person, I am sure it would be full of moments of difficulty and fear, as well as hope and excitement.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Meditate on this image of Mary, pictured here at the time of pregnancy with Jesus and engaged to Joseph, likely around 12 to 13 years old. How does this young Mary inspire you and give you hope? Reflect on the faith and courage it must have taken her to embrace her calling to be the mother of Jesus. Consider praying or journaling for that same faith and courage today.
Monday, November 30, 2020: Advent Day 2:
But in the days to come,
the mountain of the Lord’s house
will be the highest of the mountains;
it will be lifted above the hills;
peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will go and say:
“Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of Jacob’s God,
so that he may teach us his ways
and we may walk in God’s paths!”
Instruction will come from Zion
and the Lord’s word from Jerusalem.
God will judge between the nations
and settle disputes of mighty nations,
which are far away.
They will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war.
All will sit underneath their own grapevines,
under their own fig trees.
There will be no one to terrify them;
for the mouth of the Lord of heavenly forces has spoken.
-Micah 4:1-5, CEB
A New Vision for the World
Micah is a book filled with outrage at socially unjust situations and warnings of the consequences of oppression of God’s creation. In God’s hands, the world’s pain and our pain is redeemed in ways only God can conceive. Micah 4 reminds us of God’s ability to restore our individual lives as well as the world’s pain. This vision captures our imagination as it illustrates the world as it should be and will be, the new Zion, with fear, poverty and violence abolished and with freedom and prosperity established.
Reflect & Meditate
Much like I imagine Mary was searching for safety and stability for her unborn child and for time in labor, we find ourselves seeking similar feelings of security in the unknown. We long for things to be right again, for COVID restrictions to be gone, for the world to be healed and for ourselves and loved ones to no longer suffer physically, emotionally and financially. Trusting what is to come and praying with prophetic hope can pull us from the depths of fear, even if temporary God hears our prayers and is swift to respond.
Pray the prayer above and add any of your own words to the prayer. Consider journaling out a prayer for healing for the world.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Advent Day 3:
On that day, says the Lord,
I will gather the lame;
I will assemble those who were driven away
and those whom I have harmed.
I will make the lame into survivors,
those driven away into a mighty nation.
The Lord will rule over them on Mount Zion
from now on and forever.
As for you, Tower of Eder, hill of Daughter Zion,
as for you it will come,
the former dominion will come,
the royal power belonging to Daughter Zion.
- Micah 4:6-8 (CEB)
Female Leadership in Heaven:
Micah 4 gives us a prophetic vision of Zion, the Kingdom of Heaven yet to come on Earth, and the status of women is highlighted. What the world sees as women’s weakness becomes their strength. Zion is pictured here as a female in power executing strength and wise leadership as she governs the land. This passage likely refers to the nation of Israel wrestling with their vulnerability in a time of exile. It is when we sense our vulnerability, either as a group or as individuals, that we often seek reassurance that we will be protected and once again feel strong and safe.
Few are more vulnerable today, than a pregnant, unwed refugee teenager, seeking shelter in a place known for its violence. God chose a specific woman, during a specific time, to bring His son into a world in dire need of peace. Amid chaos Jesus brings peace and hope in the most unlikely of places and among the most unlikely of people.
Globally speaking, adolescent girls in refugee camps are among the highest at-risk groups for unwanted pregnancies. They also receive some of the least access to reproductive health services. For these women, identifying with Mary can be a reason for hope. Believing that if God could see the young Mary, maybe he sees them too.
Pray today for the pregnant refugees around the world and the healthcare workers who support them.
Wednesday December 2, 2020: Advent Day 4:
Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.
Every day Jesus was teaching in the temple, but he spent each night on the Mount of Olives. All the people rose early in the morning to hear him in the temple area.
-Luke 21: 34-38, (CEB)
God is more than able to bring us into spacious places when we are stressed and exhausted because he delights in us and wants what is good for us. He is our safety and our refuge despite our circumstances. God prepares our hearts for what is ahead and works within us to guide us in the midst of unrest.
God delighted in Mary. Barely even a teenager, she was among the most unlikely of candidates to mother the most royal and important of babies. God kept the vulnerable Mary safe during her scandalous pregnancy, (according to Jewish law, her and Joseph were in a lot of trouble), and God protected Mary during the dangerous journey to Jerusalem.
The world’s chaos has always existed. And it is no surprise to God when we struggle to find time and space to seek peace and rest amid daily demands. But when we seek God, even in a moment of fleeting silence, he is faithful to bring us into spacious places for our souls to rest, because he delights in us and our presence there with him. (Psalm 18:19, 2 Samuel 22:20).
Dedicate time and space today to find quiet to listen for God, acknowledging he is faithful to bring you peace. Download the images above to your phone to use as a wallpaper to help you remember this verse throughout the day or week.
Important: Click on the image and hold down if you are on a mobile device. From there you can share or add to files or your photos. You can update your lock screen and wallpaper in Settings. (Saving wallpaper will become much easier once the app is released in a few days!🤞)
Thursday December 3, 2020: Advent Day 5
Let me hear what the Lord God says,
because he speaks peace to his people and to his faithful ones.
Don’t let them return to foolish ways.
God’s salvation is very close to those who honor him
so that his glory can live in our land.
Faithful love and truth have met;
righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth springs up from the ground;
righteousness gazes down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord gives what is good,
and our land yields its produce.
Righteousness walks before God,
making a road for his steps.
-Psalm 85:8-13 (CEB)
Choosing to Trust God:
When the Angel first visited Mary, to prepare her for her upcoming pregnancy, he promised her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, that God would be with her, and that she could be certain her trust in God would be well worth the rejection and skepticism of potential neighbors, acquaintances or even family. He reminded her that “no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37). She and Joseph faithfully took steps day by day to trust in God that he had their backs despite a society poised against them.
God promises us peace, and in the person of Jesus Christ the promises of God are fulfilled. Jesus has come before us, experiencing pain, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. On the cross Jesus took our sins upon himself, seeking redemption on our behalf. God brings us good gifts, even out of the situations that look dire to our human minds.
Meditate on the verse above. Consider how Mary must have felt as a teenager betrothed and newly pregnant with the promised messiah. How does this promise of God’s faithfulness resonate with you today?
Friday, December 4, 2020: Advent Day 6
“The Lord’s word came to me:
‘Before I created you in the womb I knew you;
before you were born I set you apart;
I made you a prophet to the nations.’
‘Ah, Lord God,’ I said, ‘I don’t know how to speak
because I’m only a child.’
The Lord responded,
“Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’
Where I send you, you must go;
what I tell you, you must say.
Don’t be afraid of them,
because I’m with you to rescue you,”
declares the Lord.
Then the Lord stretched out his hand,
touched my mouth, and said to me,
“I’m putting my words in your mouth.
This very day I appoint you over nations and empires,
to dig up and pull down,
to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.”
- Jeremiah 1:4-10 (CEB)
God Calls the Unlikely:
God does not measure us according to what the world deems successful, not by status, formal education or even age. Here we read how God called Jeremiah, who considered himself a child, to be the one to bring hope to the people of Judah after they experienced the Babylonian disaster. God brought Jesus into the world, an unlikely and helpless baby, to overthrow power structures, and to be the answer to the world’s needs.
Mary was also called while young and was given the monumental task to birth and raise Jesus. Her famous greeting when she visits Elizabeth while pregnant, (Luke 1:39-65), is one of the most encouraging declarations of faith in the Bible. Elizabeth and Mary spent months together, supporting one another early on in Mary’s pregnancy. God calls everyday people to do the work of providing hope, support, and tangible love and care in the world. There will always be needs and God will always seek us out to be his hands and feet among the needy, faithful to equip us as he calls.
Read over and reflect on the first half of the Song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat (above). Allow Mary’s prophetic praise refresh you. Repeat it to yourself in prayer as you allow these words to bring you peace.
Saturday, December 5, 2020: Advent Day 7:
I will take you from the nations, I will gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your own fertile land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God.
-Ezekiel 36:24-28 (CEB)
Hope For Restoration:
This oracle, originally intended for the exiles in Babylon, would have been a great encouragement to their feelings of displacement and longings for life to return to normal. The time of loss and pain is ending and around the corner is a new hope for restoration. Similarly, Advent this year wraps up the last of 2020, a year full of losses we have barely begun to process. Although 2021 does not hold all the answers, and both COVID and this socially distanced style of living will remain a while longer, there is a sense of hope not in the year, but in God and what He is doing in the world. Ezekiel reminds us that God promises re-creation and renewal of both cities and of our lives following times of pain and devastation.
Mary’s prophetic Magnificat in Luke 1 points to a hope in God’s ability to restore, but it also reflects an awareness of where pain in the world remains and encourages us that God attends to our needs for justice. Reflect on the end of Mary’s magnificat and how faith requires both acknowledging the truth about oppressive forces in our midst and having hope for God’s plans of restoration.
Read over and reflect on the verse above. Then pray about God’s work of restoration in your life and in the lives of those you love, praying for any needs as they come to mind.