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A Letter to Mary

Dear Blessed Woman,

I know you won’t get this. I doubt you’ll even see this as you are in heaven joined by that great cloud of witnesses. After all, you don’t share the “ever present” or “all-knowing” qualities of your Lord and mine.

What was it like to be surprised by that angel? Did you have any idea? When did you tell your parents? What was their reaction? The Sacred Text doesn’t tell me, but did the angel come to them, too? In my society, parental disclosure from the news source for such an event would help (of course, the celestial announcement would have been appalling by itself). What do you think Joseph would have done if an angel didn’t inform him? Did you really believe or was it surreal? What did your friends say? Did anyone tell the synagogue leaders? Was suspicion building? It must have been a good thing that your cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, too. In a way, she “had the back” of your Lord and mine.

What did you crave during your pregnancy with Messiah? What was going through your head those 9 months knowing you were carrying a king? You really seem to have a mature view of God’s economics when it comes to the rich and poor, for you and your family were always struggling to make ends meet. What did the priest say when you gave him the name Yeshua? What was it like to hear Simeon’s prophecy about your future sorrow? Did you ever really anticipate the grief to come when Jesus would leave your home only to become homeless? Speaking of sorrow and grief, what did you think when you heard of Herod’s slaughter? Did you shed tears in sackcloth and ashes, make an offering or fast? Did you ever imagine the cost involved in birthing your Lord and mine in that stable?

Dear Mary, what was it like to patch up his first scraped knee? How weird was it to go shopping or to parties and never remind Jesus of the family rules? Did you ever feel unfair disciplining his half-siblings? Did you ever in a moment of alone time with Yeshua just bow down and worship both your Lord and mine?

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Back in the day, churches generally speaking were essential to the American landscape. Sadly, that isn’t the case any more. I can give you a brief walking tour right in our own neighborhood of “ghosts of churches past.” The American Church is herself partially to blame for this malaise and the increasing closure of her doors. Honestly, a church “closes” long before the real act when its members close the door to sound doctrine, care less about the lost souls around them while caring more about cultural relevance or preserving its past traditions. But, let’s consider: What is lost when a church closes its doors? Well, if it’s a liberal church or an altruistic, religious group pretending to be a church, then nothing, thankfully. But more specifically, let’s ask: what would be lost if our church folded and was replaced by a house or condo building?

  1. There’d be one less spiritual home for the tenants of that new property and their neighbors.
  2. A light of a “city on a hill” is extinguished, making the spiritual darkness darker.
  3. Moral/social conscience and prophetic voice is silenced.
  4. Service that actually helps the community’s needs vanishes.

What else would you add?

Can you imagine the day when the bar owner, alderman’s office, local school councils or chambers of commerce and neighbors publicly insist on our church’s effective impact on the neighborhood? You might think: ‘Yeah, that’ll be the day.’ But don’t give up on the idea. It’s happened before in church history. Pastor Tim Keller told of this: “When Julian, the last Roman emperor, tried to revive paganism, he built temples and spruced them up, but Christianity was spreading faster than he could compete with. In the midst of this, he wrote to a friend: ‘Nothing has contributed to the progress of the superstition of these Christians as their charity to strangers. The impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor but for ours as well.’ The early Christians were promiscuous with their charity.” To sum up our series on what accomplishing the ASCC mission would look like, in the end, we’d be considered a vital part of neighborhood  identity and Jesus would be unignorable through the presence of his known people. This is huge!

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