Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God

St. Mary's Church in Torgau, Germany.

I believe in Jesus Christ…born of the virgin Mary.
~Excerpt from the Apostles’ Creed

Dear People of God,

It’s not everyday you hear a Lutheran talking about the Blessed Virgin Mary—but today is that day! She plays a key role in the salvation of humankind. Namely, she is where Jesus gets his full humanity from.

After the angel Gabriel spoke God’s favor to her Mary gave this magnanimous reply, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Her consent here shows she was not disposable or being used in any negative manner. We know her role was done with respect to her dignity as a woman and a human being with her own words in Luke 1:46-55—definitely worth reading!

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I can hear it already though, “But Pastor Levi, are you just going to not talk about the virgin birth?! That can’t be a thing.” I’m certainly not going to argue for it from a scientific perspective because this is not a thing of science. That’s why I don’t believe in what is known as apologetics (arguments that try to logic people into faith)—the things of faith cannot be grasped with the senses. Faith, trusting God, is the Holy Spirit’s work—not a thing of our own reason or understanding or decision.

Well we’re at it, let’s drop any “God of the gaps” theories we hold too. “God of the gaps” is the old idea where a person teaches “We understand this, so that can’t be God, but that other thing we don’t understand we can say that is God.” This argument falls short because God is God of both things we can scientifically understand and things we cannot scientifically understand—as the Nicene Creed states “Maker…of all that is, seen and unseen.”

Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal church, the first ordained openly gay bishop in North America, once was asked whether he believed in the virgin birth. His reply was simple, “Why not?”

For me, it doesn’t bother me that it happened in this way. There are more important things. Yet, my own answer will be more than neutral because “born of the virgin Mary” is good news.

The virgin birth of Christ is God’s chosen way to join in solidarity with a humankind greatly in need of being saved. That in this way Jesus became fully human is an expression of God’s unconditional love. Indeed, it is God’s good news for our bad situation. In this world, there is much hurt, much death, much hate, much coldness. In the face of all this Mary’s reply is, “For the Lord has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

The ancient, orthodox way of understanding Mary is as the most holy Theotokos. This is a term that means “Mother of God.” Because she is the Mother of God we can affirm that Jesus is at once both God and a human being. And since this is true, we have a God who identifies with the lowly, with those in pain, with those who suffer, with those who are mired in sin.

The God-human Jesus Christ not only identifies with this, he takes it as his own. On the cross, he bore all sin, suffering, and death, so that we can have peace, joy, and life. Indeed, because of this teaching we can say God shed his own blood, that God died. Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, has accomplished all things for our salvation. For all of this we owe it to God to give him thanks and praise. While we’re at it we can truly affirm Mary, the Mother of God, is the Blessed Virgin.

Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church
Rock Springs, WY