By Collin Ross
Section 3: The Light Dawns
When we were younger, my sister and I loved to watch vocal competitions on television. In our opinion, the best part of these shows is the sensation of wonder you experience when a seemingly ordinary person opens their mouth and out flows a stunning, beautiful voice. There is something about the extraordinary rising out of the ordinary that fills our hearts with joy. Indeed, at that moment, we experience more than just joy; we feel hope––hope that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Everything that we have been told about Mary is that she is an ordinary girl. She occupies a lowly rank in a lowly town. Nothing signals to us that she is particularly noteworthy or deserving of divine favor, and yet God chose her to give birth to, raise, and nurture Jesus Christ—the Light of the World. Though she has no claim to worthy status, God raised her up and chose her to have a central role in salvation history. The Son of God came to earth through a virgin girl from Nazareth, and “his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:33).
This is the pinnacle of a pattern that we see throughout the biblical story: God chooses normal, everyday people to bring His glorious light to bear on earth. Whether Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, or Mary, God manifests His extraordinary presence through ordinary people. What we see as amazing feats of faith is God’s grace at work in people’s lives that gives birth to that faith. The whole point of God choosing Mary to bear the Light of the World is to emphasize that it’s God’s work. He is the author and sustainer of every phase of redemption. And that is as true on an individual level as it is a cosmic level.
Mary shines brightly in the book of history because she allowed the Most High to “overshadow” her (v.35). She put aside the trajectory that she had envisioned for her life in favor of the one that was possible only through obedience to God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” she says. “May it happen to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Though our exposure to the Christmas story is great, let us never forget how truly challenging it is to utter these words. Mary gave up the life she had planned for herself and entrusted her days to the Lord.
It is amazing that God uses people like Mary––and people like you and me––to shine His light in the world. It should fill our every waking moment with limitless significance. If God uses ordinary people, He can also use ordinary moments as opportunities for displaying His light. If Mary teaches us anything, it’s that the lines between sacred and secular are not what we think. Every moment is sacred, because every moment is a window through which God intends to shine His light.