By: Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Lindsay, Minister for Worship and Theology, UCC National
Mary said, yes.
She could have said no.
In this passage, it may not seem like Gabriel is asking anyone anything, but sometimes, we ask a question that actually makes a statement. We invite someone to agree with us by stating our full position, with a rhetorical “right?” at the end. Or we may ask a question or make a request by making statements and providing space for the person we’re interacting with to respond. No matter what rhetorical strategy the angel employs in this story, Mary is responding to a question.
In Luke’s birth narrative, the angel comes to Mary with a confusing message and an improbable possibility. God is with her and will honor her by giving her a son who will be God’s son. After receiving some clarity, she responds with these words of affirmation. “Here I am.” Mary knew the angel wasn’t only making a declaration, they were seeking her consent. She has agency because she knows it’s her decision even when it’s God making the offer. When God calls her into this ministry, like everyone else, it’s invitational not compulsory. This agency is the freedom that God wants for all of us: an abolition vision of free, full-bodied, informed consent. Who knows how many others may have said no before her? We remember her because she said yes, but let’s not forget she could have said no. And, she knew it.
Inviting and Liberating God,
empower me with wisdom to recognize my agency,
grant me confidence to declare my choice,
and amplify my voice to affirm the rights of others.
May we all be free and rejoice at the invitations you offer
to bring Love to birth in this world. Amen.
Artwork: “My Whole Body. My Whole Choice” by Roger Peet.
Used with permission CC BY-NC-ND
Find more at Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
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