The book pens a journey with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a framework for pondering life lessons, or songs, of grace-filled "yes" to God.

This blog continues to explore the implications of these songs in daily life. Here you will find ten additional reflections on each of Mary's "songs." May they continue to encourage your heart. ~Carla

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Favored Ones?

“I renounce the lies the enemy tells us about you, dear Father of Jesus.”  

The scene?  Last  Saturday afternoon as our class on the Sacred Actions and Ministries of Worship gathered in a little historic chapel at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies for a service of baptismal renewal.

The teaching on renouncing the schemes of the evil one was behind us, the water in which we would meditate on what it meant and still means to be brought into Christ through baptism lay before us, and in between was the moment to turn  away from the centripetal force of the world, the flesh and the devil and affirm once again the foundational realities of our faith.

An earlier class discussion on Satan’s lies yielded this reflection: “What lies does the enemy tell you about God the Father?”  “Whatever I do isn’t good enough.” “He tolerates me, but is never pleased.”   “He is distant and I can’t find my way to Him.”  “He shows his favor to others, but not to me.” 

The latter comment was my own.  I have recently become painfully aware of my unbelief that God truly favors and delights in his children, and that his heart was, is, and always will be to bless us. 

In the last decade I have lost my child-like wonder of God's favor.  It has not been a particularly smooth season, and somewhere along the line, my need to endure, while true, has been overshadowing God’s immense heart of mercy, love and delight.

And so, last Saturday, in addition to the ongoing repentance of my unbelief, I renounced the liar who buzzes around my head with the image of a God who demands but never delights.

I'm back home now and my thoughts return, as they so often do, to Mary, who is told she is highly favored.  “Oh, but Carla, that’s Mary.  She was unique, and the favor extended to her was truly extravagant. Even the Greek word employed to describe God’s favor to her is only used…twice.”

Twice.  Once in Luke 1:28: “Greetings, oh favored one, the Lord is with you,” and once in Ephesians 1:6: “In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Oh.  In the fullness of time Mary was the first to be highly favored. But she is not the last.  She once bore the Beloved, that the Beloved might bear us forever.

Greetings, oh favored ones.  The Lord is with us.


  1. As ever, God gives you a timely word for me. When God's favor and his call feel like a burden and a curse, how do you refocus on the reality the real when the falsehood of the world screams in our ears? I have been thinking of Brother Lawrence reveling in the presence of God as he worked in the kitchen. How I long to enjoy fellowship like that in the midst of my daily life

  2. Sorry to be absent from your always brutally-honest-in-a-gracious-way blog. Who hasn't felt something of what you write here: "Why him, Lord? I'm not so bad, am I?" I've often wondered why I wasn't just a tad more athletic, musical, intelligent, whatever? The curse of comparison always leaves me slathered in the tar of idolatrous-covetous-envy (ice, if you will: it's winter). And for your touch of "favor," I could use a bit of that in my anonymous existence. I'll be sixty soon, the vapor trail is getting longer, but the fuel tank is running dry. Are you sure, Lord, you've plunked me here on your green orb for a reason? Yeah, I can buy into that thinking. But then, Mary. I've grown to love our Lord's mom. As I migrate to Rome, I'd better love her; it's pretty much a requirement. Actually, though, I truly do hold deep affection for the faithful God-bearer whose quiet heart announced Him so prodigiously. It's an affection that has me thinking about writing a book of my own impressions: "Mary for the Mary Phobic." Or, better, perhaps, "Mary for Protestants." I am amazed by the ease she has to point us to her son, take no credit for herself, step out of spotlight and let Him take charge. I love how she puts Him on the spot: but mom's do that sort of thing. At the wedding in the Gentile community of Cana, she says, "Do what he tells you." In other words, "obey my son." As quickly and quietly she dissolves into the crowd and Jesus steps forward. Empty water pots, like our barren empty lives, he orders be filled with a cleansing stream of water. Then, whoosh, wine! It's the wine of new life, the best life the pots ever held - filled to the brim, an extravagant blessing. I wonder if Jesus ever did that just for his unassuming, underappreciated (I'm thinking of my Protestant friends who for the most part ignore her in the story) mom. Just for her. I wonder, did Mary ever suffer the pangs of insignificance I suffer nearly every day? Oof! Well, Carla, you have done her great justice. I don't much care how immaculate she was conceived, or whether she was whisked off to Heaven bypassing mortal death. What grips me about her are the very characteristics you write about her. I would add one: She was bossy! Okay, let me put it this way: she was mom-like.


    Jim D.

  3. Lori and Jim,

    Yes--The word God gives Mary and her response are oh-so-relevant to our own little daily days. And bossy? I would, submit that the difference between merely mom-like and bossy is tone-quality and body language, and those appear to be beyond the scope of "these things are written that you may believe..."

  4. Carla - what a wonderful reminder to consider the fears and lies we too often entertain...I am reminded of Jesus' words at the beginning of his ministry after coming out of the wilderness - "Repent" and then "Follow me" - therein is a cyclical expression of discipleship that we journey through on this side of things...Thanks for your reflection