Monday, December 12, 2011

We Don't Need the Immaculate Conception and neither does Jesus.

"The Annunciation" Brigid Marlin

My friend and former secretary, Anita wrote this wonderful meditation about Mary, Mary: Less is More.  And a couple of comments got hung up on her opening statement that she was "far from perfect".  Okay, I can understand Roman Catholics and Orthodox not liking that perspective.  But the name of the blog is "Living Lutheran"  And surprise - we Lutherans see things differently!  

I agree that Lutherans need to reclaim some appreciation for Mary but Mary being perfect and sinless?  Um, no.   In fact, I think the whole idea of the Immaculate Conception, that Mary HAD to be conceived without sin in order for her womb to be worthy to hold Christ kind of chips away at the whole idea of the Incarnation and God entering this messy sinful  world.  And it begins with entering the womb of a young girl who was, like the rest of us, far from perfect.  Mary doesn't need to be perfect to hold Jesus.  And neither do we.  

And don't even get me started at how this image of a virgin mother totally messed up expectations of being the perfect woman.  

I have to quote Jen Vannette's comment because she expresses it well:

I get tired of focusing on "perfect, sinless" Mary. She really can't teach me anything. I loved this reflection, Anita, because you are right. From today's perspective (and even from Mary's own time perspective), she wasn't the ideal choice.
The Mary that hesitates, I can relate to. I can learn from her faith. The Mary that was a ridiculously strong women when you really consider what she went through: public ridicule for getting knocked-up and at first without Joseph's protection until he wised up and got on board with the plan (which I can also relate to and learn from), the mere idea of riding a donkey while in labor (I barely handled a car ride while in labor!), giving birth, unattended in a barn?! This is one strong woman! I can learn from that Mary.
But, perfect, unassuming, Mary? Not much she can offer me. I'm not perfect, gentle, quiet, or immediately willing to follow God. I may have my moments, but on a whole, not so much. Yet, God used Mary so wonderfully. I loved your line, Anita, "We, too, have received the Holy Spirit through our baptism. Imagine it! What has God conceived — in us?" What, indeed? Praise God! Amen. 


  1. The other reason I thought Mary was worth taking a look at was because of how well her example models our Lutheran faith. Just wait, I'm not talking about Mary's salvation. I'm talking about ours. She is great at letting God do what God does...for us. While we are tempted to jump on the Jesus bandwagon and take some of the credit, Mary shows us another way. She is about to bring forth a Savior and all she has basically is a womb, which, incidentally, God gave her to begin with. Like I said, it's not about Mary and it's not about us.

  2. By some crazy coincidence, I was just talking about this subject, or almost this one -- this afternoon my time, probably just as you were writing this post. Just blogged my own reflections on it.