The setting? A women’s Christmas event at a small country church in western Massachusetts.
The speaker? An inexperienced, 40-year-old pastor’s wife from Cape Cod, the green around her gills not remotely Christmas-y.
The topic? Another problem. She didn’t have one.
Asked to speak on the theme “Christmas Memories,” she’d been feverishly searching her brain-bank for weeks. Why is it that a fever sometimes comes up cold?
Ten days to go before the event, and she couldn’t even pull an old talk out of her files. She had none – talks or files or merry memories. She could only think of one woman whose Christmas memories would compel a listen and that one – contrary to legend – wasn’t making appearances any longer.
That woman’s name was Mary. Her birthplace, Nazareth.
Mary’s memories, the pastor’s wife mused. How I’d like to hear those! Matthew and Luke shared a few, but everyone’s heard them. What about the rest of her story? She’s not talking.
Then a firm impression, like a hand in wet mental cement.
But you have access to one Source who knows how Mary felt. I was with her, and I’m with you now.
The children were at school, and the poor-excuse-for-a-speaker hurried to her desk, brought her poverty to the table. Bowed her head, listened.
And the first words came:
“The other day, my friend Joseph called me a home girl. What a funny term!”
The pastor’s wife sat for hours listening and typing. Typing and listening. Hitting the delete button when an idea came that was clearly hers, not his.
Three days and fourteen scenes later, it was done. She shook her head, wondering. Hmm, she said to her husband. I never would have thought of that.
She printed out what appeared to be a script. Stuck it in a binder, put on a blue dress. Drove four hours to the little country church to the west. Read it like theatre, with her as the reader.
Then the requests came from guests who were present that first night. Our church next year? Ours after that? Ours, too?
But in the third year, with four and six and eight invitations to tell the story, He changed the directions.
Leave that notebook behind. Step into her sandals and tell the story plain as I’ve told you. Hide yourself so they can see Me.
But Lord, she protested. I’m 42. Nearly three times the age Mary was when it happened to her. I’m too old and I look so wrong, and I cannot possibly remember.
Have you already forgotten what my servant told Mary? she heard. Nothing is impossible with me. What are you afraid of? Did she not have more reason to fear?
So the pastor’s wife found a linen robe, hid her hair under a veil, and went. He sent her first to a big church so she’d get better for the little ones. 68 women gave their lives to Christ that day, she was told. She cried all the way back to Cape Cod.
She continued to go wherever the summons came, year after year, decade after decade, until thirty years had passed.
2023. A request from a church near Atlanta, Georgia. We need the story, please. Come?
And so on November 28, the pastor’s wife will once again help Him tell the story of the woman Jesus called mother. She's 70 now, but then she was always too old to step into the sandals of a Jewish teenaged virgin.
What looks impossible to you right now? Is it reconciliation with the child or the sibling or the longtime friend who has turned their back on your family? Could it be the mending of your son’s marriage, or perhaps even your own? Is it the healing of body or soul?
A messenger spoke truth to the future mother of Jesus 2000 years ago. Today this messenger wants you to remember it, too. Nothing is impossible with God.
- Maggie Wallem Rowe
PS - My “Elizabeth” has advised me for 30 years to never go out without prayer support. If you are reading this on 11/28, would you ask the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in the lives of those who will be present in Stone Mountain, Georgia, tonight? I had a lengthy exposure to Covid on Thanksgiving Day. Please ask the Lord to protect my health and those around me. I’ll also be speaking in Hamilton, New Jersey, on Saturday, December 2. Thank you.