by Lori Richey
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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Luke 1:29-31
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38
This thought echoes throughout the wondrous events that take place around the birth of our savior, but surely no one felt as surprised as Mary. Stunned at the revelation that she will bear the son of God, Mary wonders about the angel’s words. And yet, she never wavers in her acceptance of her fate. Though troubled, her faith is steadfast. And then she hurries to see Elizabeth, who confirms for her that truly she is chosen by God to be part of His grand plan. And her response is the beautiful testimony we find in Luke 1:46-55, the Magnificat. Her words exude humility and gratitude, while at the same time claiming and announcing the good work that God is doing in and through her. No doubt Mary continued to wonder and ponder all that was happening to her throughout her pregnancy, including her labor and delivery in a cattle stall in the dead of winter. Whether I’m wearing my mom hat or my youth worker hat, I can totally identify.
Most of the moms I know second-guess themselves on a regular basis. Is my kid too busy? Is my kid too bored? Should I let them sleep with their phone under their pillow, or take it away every night? Should I make my kid go to youth group, when they have a test the next day? In our world of hyper-connectedness and 24/7 opinions available, the moms in your ministry setting and around the world make decisions on the spur of the moment, and with long, careful deliberation. They ponder in silence and confer with friends. They read blogs or watch Dr. Phil or look to Scripture for guidance. And they all want the best for their children. As youth workers, we are called to listen like Elizabeth when they are troubled. To ponder with them as they contemplate the best course. To speak words of grace in affirming that some decisions will have better results than others, that the important thing is to say yes to God and the way he is fully present in our lives. Young people watch their parents pretty closely, you know.
My own call to youth ministry was definitely a “Who, me?” moment. The position had been open for a while at my home church, and I was “just a mom” of a youth-group age kid, plus two younger at home, and pursuing a career in teaching at that time. But someone in the congregation saw something in me that made them think I should apply for the job. But…I’m supposed to be a teacher! And, ummm, I haven’t studied the Bible all that much. And… what? And here I am, nine years later, thanking God for the opportunities I’ve been given to spend my days working with and for the amazing young people at my church and their families. My mom skills got me through my first year, I listened and learned from some amazing pastors, colleagues, and teachers, and God did the rest, I just had to follow Mary’s lead by pondering and saying yes.
In what ways does your church support moms at different stages of parenting? Is there a New Moms group or an Empty-Nester support team? What would it look like to host a Bible study that partners moms of toddlers with moms of teens, all learning together?