In this fourth week of Advent, the focus falls on Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her extraordinary story. She first appears as the recipient of startling news about a child she will bear. She is then the one who gives birth to Jesus and so is central to the Christmas story. How are we to understand Mary?

In some traditions of the church, Mary is revered as the God-bearer (Theotokos) or as the saint who intercedes with Jesus on behalf of humanity. Yet in the Protestant tradition we are cautious about giving her a special ongoing place in our practice of faith. Instead we tend to quickly move on from Christmas and Mary disappears from our view.

We might pause this week to reflect on Mary’s remarkable and unique journey of faith. She has several roles including as a forthright prophet (as she speaks the Magnificat), as a nurturer and teacher (of Jesus) and later as a disciple (as part of the early church in Acts 1). What might we learn from Mary about our own journey of discipleship?