The Inspiring Story of Mary’s Faithful Presence
by Mark Votava
The place I live in Downtown Tacoma is becoming the context where I practice being the church together with others. I love listening to the stories of scripture and learning about how different people stewarded their faithful presence throughout their lives. It is inspiring to think that I can follow in that path myself as I seek to live out an authentic way of life in my local community. I have recently been thinking about the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus into the world and how that came about through a young women who was faithfully present through listening.
Maybe we could learn more from this story as God is communicating in the world all around us all of the time. God communicates in small, ordinary ways through our context and relationships in the parish where we live. I have been experimenting with listening to my faithful presence through the context that I live. It has turned out to be fun and a source of joy in my life even though sometimes it is difficult.
- A longing for connection and rootedness
The parish becomes like food, water and education that we need to survive. Stewarding our faithful presence stirs a longing for connection and rootedness in the parish. We are born into a conversion of place as we steward our faithful presence. We need the surrounding place that we inhabit together.
- An incarnational way of being
We become one with the surrounding place and can no longer be content with a rootless lifestyle. Stewarding our faithful presence is about an incarnational way of being through the parish imagination. Stewarding our faithful presence is not about our independence from place, but our integration and collaboration within it. The life of the body of Christ depends on this solidarity with place.
- The story of Mary and the birth of Jesus
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God… For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-35, 37-38).
- Mary practiced stewarding her faithful presence
Mary was one who practiced stewarding her faithful presence in everyday life with her soon to be husband Joseph. She must have been a young woman of deep listening and love for others in the place she inhabited. She must have been a seeker of God in everyday life. She must have lived in solidarity with God, others and her local community.
- Bringing something beautiful into the world
And out of this stewarding of her faithful presence, she became the mother of Jesus. She brought something beautiful into the world. God used her to bring Christ into the world as a human being through the incarnation. If Mary had not been someone who practiced stewarding her faithful presence; she would not have had the ability to listen deeply, to sacrifice her life and marriage, to risk being marginalized, to act with courage in an unknown situation where she simply had to trust the God she believed in.
- If it wasn’t for Mary there would have been no early church
It must have been frightening for her. Joseph may not of even understood her. If it wasn’t for Mary we wouldn’t have a Christianity today. There would have been no early church.
- Mary didn’t understand how everything would work out
There wouldn’t have been much of anything. Mary stewarded her faithful presence and believed that God could do what she might have thought was impossible. As Mary stewarded her presence, she lived with an embodied trust that she would follow the mystery of God even though she might not have understood how everything was going to work out.
Do you believe that Mary understood everything that was going on in the birth of Jesus? Please comment and share!