Thursday Scripture - Luke 1:48 - for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
Thursday Quote - Dietrich Bonhoeffer - God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
As I pondered today's verse I realized that it sums up the way that I have been interpreting much of the Bible lately. Each time I read a story, sometimes consciously, sometimes not I'm sure, I'm asking the question, 'How, in this story, is God being mindful of those in a humble state.' So many stories sparkle with new light and crackle with new energy when we begin to pay attention to the social location of the characters. Ruth, the immigrant outsider, Israel enslaved in Egypt, Jacob the second son, Joseph the enslaved, The Samaritan woman, the leper, the prostitute. So many of the characters in the Bible are considered outsiders, less-than, ignorable and expendable.
What is it that makes Mary humble. I don't think that this a description of her character, that she is not a prideful person. Her humble state is economic and social. She is not a part of a rich, powerful or influential family. Her humble state is political. She is a Judean living under Roman occupation. Her ethnic group is oppressed and exploited. She is from Nazareth, a town far from the center of power, a town where rebels, brigands, and thieves go to hide out (The Mos Eisley Cantina for your Star Wars fans). So she becomes associated with, by proximity, criminals. No one would pay her any attention. The wealthy and powerful would expect nothing from her, they would not notice her or hear her or value her.
Which explains her surprise that God has chosen her to be such a vital part of God's plan to bring justice and start the renewal of all creation. The story of Jesus's birth in one episode after another of God considering those of humble estate; Joseph, a laborer, Shepherds, again, laborers usually held in low esteem socially. Even the wise men, yes educated and wealthy, but outsiders once they arrive in Bethlehem. God is paying attention to and bestowing great responsibility on those of humble estate. If these are the people among whom God chooses to be born, what does this say to us? It certainly challenges us to consider who is of humble state in our society and inspires us to treat them with greater honor.
Thursday Explore - Ruth 1; John 4:1-42; Matthew 5:1-15
Thursday Pray - It is difficult to believe that you place such hope and trust in humble folks like us, God. But your word reveals just that in virtually every story. So for combatting every negative message we have received with the dignity and honor you bestow on us, we are grateful. We confess that too often we have not considered those of humble state in the world around us. We pray that we will seize each opportunity you bring to us, to consider these your humble children and give them the gift of dignity and honor.