‘Tis the season to remember the most famous unwed pregnant teenager of all time, Mary.
Ponder Mary in your heart this Advent season. Through the angel Gabriel, God called upon Mary to be Jesus’ mother. Apparently, Gabriel frightened her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30 English Standard Version). “Do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times in scripture, a daily reminder whenever you’re feeling anxious.
If the angel Gabriel’s reassurance was helpful his next statement might not have been. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32 ESV).
Mary’s response is very practical, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34 ESV).
Gabriel answers, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born of you will be called holy — the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 ESV).
I imagine a long pause prior to Mary’s response. I imagine Mary pondering the angel Gabriel, his message, and God’s plan for her life. I imagine a long uncomfortable silence of waiting. What is plan B if Mary says, “No! Get Out! Now!” to Gabriel?
Mary agrees. It’s easily the biggest decision of her young life (Luke 1:38).
What if it was today? Mary and Joseph, the most famous stepfather of all time, traveled approximately 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem where she gave birth and “laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
Stevens Village, Manley Hot Springs, and Denali Visitor Center are each approximately 90 miles from Fairbanks. Imagine Mary and Joseph traveling 90 miles to Fairbanks.
Where would Mary get help? In Fairbanks, married and unmarried women find support at the FYNDout Free Pregnancy Center. All services are free, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, supplies and much, much more!
A modern Mary (unwed pregnant teenager) might receive support from her church, or she might face judgment and shame from her pastor and fellow church members. Jesus did not shame and judge, he showed grace. Jesus clashed with religious leaders of his day as they pronounced judgment and shame. As Christians today, are we called to judge or love?
As you look at the pretty lights and manger scenes, ponder Mary and her amazing leap of faith in answering God’s call in her life. Also ponder the plight of unwed pregnant moms today. Be graceful like Jesus. Leave the judging to God and courtrooms.
Mary was not able to stay at the Inn for lack of room. Mary might find a room at the Fairbanks Youth Advocates Door Emergency Youth Shelter.
I pray that you’ll find room in your heart to support FYNDout Free Clinic and the Door as they support modern Mary today.
The Rev. Stephen Reed is a pastor at St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and chaplain for Police and Fire. Insight is sponsored by TVCC.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on December 9, 2022
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting