Song: Mary's Lullaby (Children's Songbook pg.44)
What kind of person was Mary? We learn in 1 Nephi 11:15 that Mary was "beautiful and fair above all other virgins" and we know she was a model daughter because the angel Gabriel told her she was "highly favored" by God (Luke 1:28).
"As there is only one Christ, so there is only one Mary. And as the Father chose the most noble and righteous of all his spirit sons to come unto mortality as his Only Begotten in the flesh, so we may confidently conclude that he selected the most worthy and spiritually talented of all his spirit daughters to be the mortal mother of his Eternal Son." (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, pg. 85)
What did the angel tell Mary? "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
The thing that I find interesting about her character, is that her question to the angel, "How shall this be?", didn't imply that she didn't have faith that she would/could actually carry and mother the Son of God. It was that she wanted to know the process: How could a virgin give birth? Unlike her cousins' husband, Zachariah, who basically wanted proof that his barren wife could conceive, Mary had complete faith in God's power, and answered, "Behold the handmaid (servant) of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" without hesitation.
However, she was probably scared. In Jewish law, a woman could be stoned to death if she was pregnant, but not married (Deut. 22:21). People who knew Mary, but did not know of her angelic visit and her divine calling most likely judged her harshly and thought she had sinned. Mary undoubtedly endured persecution and false judgement, but was willing to do the will of the Lord. Before the angel Gabriel left, he gave her a sign that must have bolstered her faith and given her comfort after this life changing announcement. The angel told her about the miracle of her cousin, Elizabeth. This elderly woman who had never been able to have children, was now 6 months pregnant! This information accomplished two things: first, adding another testament to the amazing power of God, and second, giving her someone in whom she could confide her incredible news who would understand, love, accept, and help the young Mary come to get a glimpse of what was about to happen in her life.
Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, and as soon as they saw each other, Elizabeth's baby "leaped in [her] womb for joy" (Luke 1:44). She knew Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, and she was excited for her. They rejoiced together and Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God and my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name" (Luke 1:46-49).
After the baby, Jesus, was born, Mary "took all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). Some believe this to mean that she didn't understand what was happening to her. But I think that she was surely raised and taught all about the coming of the Messiah, she was visited personally by an angel, and she just delivered a baby without ever knowing a man... she didn't believe. She knew. And she also knew that everything that was happening was so very sacred, so instead of sharing aloud, she kept her thoughts "in her heart" and pondered.
How can we be like Mary?
I think it is important that we take the time to recognize the hand of God in our lives - and often. But this doesn't mean shouting or sharing these experiences with the whole world. We should take all of those things and "ponder them in our hearts." It is when we stop, when we are still, and open our minds to these special experiences, or bouts of personal revelation that we learn the mysteries of God.
Activity: Go see the lights and nativity at Temple Square, or find another activity that lets you bask in the spirit of the season. Take the time to really be in the moment, feel of the Spirit, and "ponder in your heart."
Watch the bible video... An Angel Fortells Christ's Birth to Mary
For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.