Have you ever thought about what Mary endured from the moment the angel Gabriel informed her she would give birth to the Son of God until the day he was born? As she bravely uttered the words, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said," she opened herself up to the judgment of each person that crossed her path.
Ken Gire, in his book, 'Moments With The Savior,' dramatically describes Mary's predicament:
"When Mary submitted to God's will, she subjected herself to great risk. In the balance hung not only her reputation but her life. At worst, she would be stoned. At best, she would be ridiculed.
"Imagine the rumors that would circulate around the only spring in town where everyone came to draw water. 'Loosely woven morals always come unraveled,' an old woman piously says as she fills her jar. Another woman, half in Mary's defense, speaks up. 'So easy for a nice girl to get in trouble here, what, with foreign traders spending the night, Roman soldiers passing through.
"As Mary's story would become public, the rumors would harden to ridicule. Imagine the looks. The smirks. The comments."
Have you ever thought about what a young teenage girl today endures from the moment the pregnancy test comes back positive until she gives birth? Though she doesn't share the same innocence as Mary she does share many of her same emotions. The looks she gets from total strangers can kill her confidence and stone-cold words spoken carelessly can severely damage her ability to hope, trust, and love herself and others.
Maybe you have felt her pain because you've walked in similar shoes or have watched your own child endure uninvited judgment about her poor choices. Or maybe you've been the one rolling your eyes in her direction and speaking hateful words in an intentional stage whisper.
This month throw a baby shower for an unwed teenage mother. If your group members don't personally know a pregnant teenage girl, call your community's pregnancy care center or social services agency. Explain your group's intention to bless the young mother and obtain their permission.
Before planning the shower, spend one of your meetings discussing Jesus' interaction with the woman at Jacob's well in John 4:4-30, 39-42. Discuss what impact Jesus' words and actions had on this woman who was shunned by others for her poor choices. Then pray together for God to lavish His love on the teen mom through your words and acts of kindness.
Collect clothes, diapers, pacifiers, toys, etc., for the baby and bubble bath, movie tickets, restaurant gift certificates, a Bible, etc., for the mom. After the items have been collected place them in a large basket lined with a receiving blanket along with your personal notes of encouragement and prayers. Decide as a group whether you will deliver the basket to the mom or invite her to your meeting for some cake and fellowship.
Invite the young mom to come to your small group. Continue to offer her love and support as she and her new baby adapt to their new life together.