Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 6

By Dona Bunch

What Was Mary Thinking?

Read: Luke 2:19 KJV

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

As a teenager, Mary experienced an event not experienced by any other mortal. Told by Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah, Mary joined a singular club. Little has been recorded to give us insight into Mary’s thoughts and feelings at this transcendent moment. We know only that she was “greatly troubled.”

What must her first thoughts have been? Shock, disbelief, fear? Why her? Why now? What about Joseph, her betrothed? Yet despite the incredible circumstances, Mary answered simply, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” 

I have to wonder what happened after Gabriel’s visit. Did Mary run to tell her mother? Or was she afraid that no one would believe her? By accepting the angel’s gift, had she risked her future with Joseph, and even the safety of herself and her family? And a baby! She was little more than a child herself.

Since I first read the story of the angelic visit I’ve been drawn to the brief, understated explanation of Mary’s reaction to an event unparalleled in human history. Mary took in the amazing events happening in her transformed life and “pondered them in her heart”. Throughout her pregnancy and Jesus’ birth, whether riding a donkey on the bumpy road to Bethlehem, having the Holy baby in a stable, or fleeing from Herod’s gaze, Mary persevered in her sacred assignment. 

Her heart must have been full of thoughts and feelings, doubts and joys. Perhaps she felt welcome reassurance when someone immediately recognized the “changed” Mary. (“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”) Perhaps she also felt icy fear when Simeon warned her that her baby would cause a sword to “pierce her own soul.”

Wrapping herself in silence may have been Mary’s best response. It must have been hard to imagine a Messiah, but easier to imagine a tiny baby. Far too young and modest to be a saint, she could settle herself by being a mother. And at that time, at the very beginning of Jesus’ life, that was what he needed most. 

Somehow, as Mary held a whirlwind of events close to her heart, the young mother quietly managed to raise a savior who would transform the world. May Mary’s gentle strength be a model for us as we enter this Holy season.


Lord, as Advent approaches, may we ponder the gift of the Christ child. Thank you for transforming our lives through your gift of salvation and forgiveness. Help us to accept the greatest gift as Mary did, with humility and grace. Amen.

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