This week was the day of the patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, certainly the most recognized image of Mary in this region of the world. Reflecting again on the mother of Christ this Advent, I am struck by what she has to teach us. In this year that has been filled with acts of resistance and the trending hashtag #resist, I find in Mary the answer to my question: “What are we resisting?”
The faith tradition I was raised in, white evangelicalism, taught me that the way of faith is not resistance but surrender. Surrender to the Lord’s will. Surrender to tradition. Surrender to obedience.
I have spent most of my life learning to surrender- to release my tightly clenched hands to surrender what I have to the way of Jesus. I have lain prostrate before the Spirit of God, surrendering my very life to his calling and service. I have come to find great freedom in surrendering my plans and understanding to a new way of love found in the non-intuitive way of Christ- loving enemy, loving neighbor, surrendering in order to gain, dying in order to live. I believe that the way of surrender truly is the way to Jesus.
Mary is held up as the epitome of surrender. She fully surrenders her body, heart, and whole life to the will and plan of God. We hear it in her response to the angel Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” What strikes me as I read her response this year is that with this act of surrender, Mary ushers in a resistance movement.
Through Mary, the Kingdom of God comes to earth. With Jesus’ birth, a new kingdom comes, one that resists the injustices of earthly kingdoms. As the truth of her surrender sinks into her heart, the resistance wells up in Mary’s song. She sings, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty…” From the beginning we glimpse that this new kingdom will not be about surrendering to the status quo but resisting pride, resisting scarcity, resisting injustice.
In Mary I see the call of my faith to both surrender and resistance. The path of surrendering to the Lordship of Christ and His way in the world leads to resistance. We are the people of the Prince of Peace, we must resist violence. We are the people of the Wonderful Counselor, we must resist the evil of hate. We are the children of the King of the whole world, we must resist the divisions of racism and sexism. As surrendered lives to the ruler of a New Kingdom, we must resist the principalities and rulers of this world that seek to steal, kill, and destroy.
And like the prophets of old, resistance in the face of the status quo looks like madness. Simple acts like kneeling, reading the truth of Scripture publically, praying, and marching are shaped as craziness to distract from the madness of the status quo. In the face of lies we must surrender again to the King who said he came to give sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. This promise necessitates resisting blindness and oppression.
The Christmas story is an invitation to surrender to the will of God with his coming Kingdom of peace and justice. In that surrender we are led to resist the kingdom of this world in the same way that Mary declared the truth of injustice, the Magi thwarted the plans of the ruler, and Joseph fled oppression to protect his family. To surrender to Jesus is to #resist.