Mary by Gretchen C Nelson - Read Online
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For many believers, Mary has become one of many characters of the nativity story. In truth, the story of the mother of Jesus means so much more. Her journey of faith and obedience is representative of the path
each believer must travel. Just as Mary accepted the honor of carrying the baby Jesus, we too must receive the invitation to carry His Spirit and walk with Him.

Join author Gretchen C. Nelson as she paints a vivid picture of Mary the mother of Jesus, and brings her remarkable and timeless story to life.
Published: Charisma House on
ISBN: 9781616389475
List price: $12.99
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Mary - Gretchen C Nelson

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Gretchen Nelson is a marvelous teacher. She brings those same skills as an interpreter of scripture, developed through her own reading of the Bible. I find her approach to Mary to represent a twenty-first century reprise of the style of the best early church and the reformation era.




This book is a discursive meditation on Mary as we meet her in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. This fine study invites the reader to adopt a devotional attitude and to reflect on how Mary in the Bible weaves her way through the experiences of our lives.




Fifty years ago there was a birthing in a small church called Loving Shepherd in California. Gretchen and I and many other young people who had gathered in California to seek their fortunes by going west were introduced to the truth that with a commitment to Christ we could expect that the seed of His Spirit would be planted in us so it could grow to both encourage us and convict us of our straying from His will in our lives. I think Jesus would be pleased with us using the birthing of Jesus as a model for the birthing of His Spirit in the lives of his followers so that over and over we might birth or bring Jesus anew in the places we frequent. As such, I sense that this book about Mary could become a very useful tool for helping believers become the birthing agents he desires us to be. All who have experienced the transformation power of new birth may find this study of Mary especially helpful and inspirational if they are seeking to live spirit led lives.



Morning by morning I am nourished by God’s Holy Word to grow me up in Jesus. Gretchen has received the talent, to capture deeper meaning that awakens my soul in a book.



A Study in Luke 1 and 2


Mary by Gretchen C. Nelson

Published by Creation House Press (CHP)

Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group

600 Rinehart Road

Lake Mary, Florida 32746

This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means— electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

The views expressed in this book are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of the publisher.

Select CREATION HOUSE PRESS/CHARISMA HOUSE BOOK GROUP products are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchase for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, and educational needs.

For details, write Charisma House Book Group, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746, or telephone (407) 333–0600.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Copyright © 1946, 1952, 1971 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.

Cover Illustrations by Jessica Larum

Cover Design by Terry Clifton

Interior design by Terry Clifton

Copyright © 2012 by Gretchen C. Nelson

All rights reserved

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012931886

International Standard Book Number (Paperback): 978-1-61638-946-8

International Standard Book Number (E-book): 978-1-61638-947-5

First Edition

12 13 14 15 16 — 987654321

Printed in the United States of America


A fond dedication and thank you to those whom the Lord used to prosper my way: Genesis 24:40.

To the special educators in my life, who despite my feistiness kept motivating in very special ways. As a little girl, my Uncle Nort read Bible stories while I listened absorbed by its pictures and the sweet aroma of his pipe. His prayers for me were answered. My school mentors Murrae Freng and Les Dehlin who encouraged the music playing inside my head by giving me numerous performance opportunities.

My college professors: voice coach Dr. Wendell Buckley and the Concordia Concert Choir director Dr. Paul J. Christiansen. The latter reached into my heart and made music not only an art form but a life-long way to worship.

History professor Dr. Hiram Drache who one day startled me with the statement that he thought I should be a writer. It was perhaps the second furthest occupational aspiration on my horizon; teaching being the last. But his word was tucked way deep inside me. Interesting is our Lord. I was soon to discover that I loved to do both.

Prexy Joe Knutson, Concordia’s president during my student years, whose Bible thumping, pulpit pounding chapel sermons unnerved me only to have him become a treasured, loving and valued friend after the Lord brought the Word to reality in my life.

My first pastors in California, Ed Rice and Maynard Force both of whom fed the Word to this spiritually starving young woman. They spoke its Truth with clarity and never adjusted it to meet the rising fads of the culture’s newly sprung religions.

And to my husband who himself is a great theologian knowing how to reel me in when I let my ears tingle a bit to the beat of the world’s music. God has given us a wonderful life together and that despite numerous trials and tribulations has brought us safely thus far, blessing us with a family who loves the Lord.


1 The Narrative

2 The Inasmuch

3 The Writing

4 The Favored

5 The Fear

6 The Favor

7 The Invitation

8 The Sinces

9 The Impossible

10 The Overshadowing

11 The Handmaiden

12 The Word

13 The Faith and the Obedience

14 The Blessed

15 The Seed

16 The Lineage

17 The Night

18 The Cost

19 The Ruler

20 The Enrollment

21 The Village

22 The Birth

23 The Praise

24 The Name

25 The Shepherds

26 The Witnesses

27 The Announcement

28 The Therefore

About the Author



. . . a    narrative    of    the    things    which    have been accomplished . . .

—LUKE 1:1

GROWING UP IN a small farming village of 629 people in the heartland of central Minnesota had some advantages. Among other things, it held the possibility of offering one a feeling of stability. Although my home life was not of my liking, nor I suppose choosing, two buildings in the core of town, the local school and a big church, acted as my refuge, a type of safety net. Both structures were made of solid brick mirroring the strength of their resolve in creating fine citizens—either of earth or of heaven, or both for that matter. Harboring students from grades one through twelve, the school was located directly across the street from where I lived.

Centered in the middle of its own block, it was where I could learn and have a good time. It offered as much recreation as I could handle and plenty of clubs kept me busy. When enduring classes and their assignments no longer seemed bearable and spring with its plowing and planting arrived, we were done for the year. Vacation! With twilights lasting until past 9 p.m., summers were spent making up games such as hide and seek with half the town limits as legal hiding places. Safely chasing up and down the streets on our bikes or bussing out to swim in a lake with a bottom so sandy . . . well, it all seemed so natural.

The church of my attendance was across the street from the school. Its warm honey oak pews sent a message of stoicism and offered dwellers thereon strength of character. A round stained glass window of Jesus praying in Gethsemane and lit from the outside held my attention through many a sermon. Cool in the summer, warm in the winter, this place was a true sanctuary for me. The basement held the aroma of hot dishes from funerals past and the recent meatball or ham dinners that for reasons of lack of money I never attended. A little stage had been built for a piano and a podium that served as the pulpit for the Sunday school superintendent who taught us a Bible lesson and then led us in the singing before moving to our classes. It was in that church that I had my first taste of Mary and the Christmas story.

During my youth, that story was told in a pageant every Christmas Eve. One year in particular comes to mind. We were usually with my mother’s side of the family seventeen miles away on the night of the twenty-fourth. A small Christmas tree lit a corner of their living room and wonderful creamy foods were served. The presents were passed and opened hurriedly. In my little girl years, homemade clothes were still the normal fare of the gifts with my name on them. The last recollection I have of that special rock house came with a disappointment. We had to leave early from the comfort of my grandma’s home, fun with my cousins and some wonderful decadent dessert. I had a leading role in the Sunday school Christmas production later in the evening. For some unfathomable reason our pastor left the telling of that part of the Gospel story in the hands of the congregation’s prepubescent teens.

A cloudless starlit sky hung overhead, but it was freezing cold in my dad’s Plymouth. Only one fan-less heater in the front valiantly tried to blast enough warmth to keep us this side of frostbite. It was no match for the outside temperature. I was wrapped tightly in a scratchy woolen homemade quilt in the back seat watching my breath come out in cold puffs. Not only did cold puffs fill the air so did resentment and hostility. For reasons unknown to me, a seething, yet quiet anger was the parental mood of the night as it was on most other holidays.

Dropped off at the back door of the church, I ran down the stairs to get into costume. I was Gabriel. With silver tinseled garland wreathing my head and edging the wings attached to the back of a sheet someone had generously donated and stitched for me to wear, I marched up the steps to make my entrance. There belying the naked truth about myself, I recited Gabriel’s words.

Hail, O favored one . . . On and on it went, this, what I felt to be, one way conversation with my silent peers. My outstretched arms ached while Mary sat on a little stool virtually covered from head to toe in her pale blue shawl. I’ve always wondered why she seems forever and ever swathed in pale blue. Despite having only two short lines to say, the center of attention was on Mary. Even the ever present Joseph stood mutely at her side. Nary a word from him all night. One would have thought he’d have something to say regarding this chain of events. Then, after silently giving birth, which is a bit of biblical whimsy, Mary sat numbly staring straight ahead while I had to take a quick jaunt behind the altar railing in order to join a crowd of other sheet bedecked angels as we chorused the bathrobed shepherds out in their sheepless sheep fields. It seemed that I had way too much work to do for one so young.

When the following year arrived, they appointed me to the same role. My complaint was loud. All Mary had to do was sit and mumble a few lines and then hold a fake Jesus in her lap while kings wrapped in more bathrobes dumped their wares at her feet. Meanwhile I had to stand the whole time with my throbbing arms pointed straight in front of me and she didn’t even have to say Thank you to those men of the East, wherever that was. Their response had something to do with my strawberry blond hair being angel-like. If they had only known.

The generous graces of Santa Claus running up the aisle tossing bags of unwrapped tasty morsels and some twisty, striped candy that had the awful taste of anise saved the event. I had not yet developed my affinity for chocolate, so he was on no collision course with me in that regard and I sort of forgave the women in charge of casting.

I really had wanted to be Mary.

While a youngster, I thought Christmas was supposed to be a time of receiving gifts—but I learned early on that they were usually ones not measuring up to my expectations. I remember wanting a doll. When I finally got one, her head fell off, probably because I’d worked so hard to get some outfit over it. My dad had made a few pieces of furniture for her—all bright pink. I didn’t much care for the color pink, but pink was the color of little girls, so her tiny home was all pinked out. I had only eight colors in my crayon box and pink wasn’t one of them, so I felt somewhat righteous about not liking a color that did not possess the nerve to be red. In too short a time her predicament required rest on the little bed he’d made for her—head askew as if waiting for some other violation to occur. Once in awhile I’d pick her up and try jamming her head back into her body, but it never stuck so she wasn’t much fun any more. Very ungrateful, spoiled little girl was I.

As the years progressed so did the wretchedness of those two days of Christmas. I simply dreaded them. Cold, lifeless, gray, knowing that friends were happily with family and there the three of us sat. Each more miserable than the other. Then came the great escape of college.

While in the halls of higher learning, I performed in the concert choir that sang of the