Some years ago, when I was practicing law, I represented a trauma surgeon. Her job was to put people back together after some terrible accident. She firmly believed that the most common last words her teenage patients said before they became her patients were, “Hey – Watch this!” The second would be, “What could possibly go wrong?”
If you have ever been the parent of a teenager, male or female, it is no surprise to you that teenagers from time to time make terrible decisions. They simply cannot make connections between their actions and predictable consequences. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the reason for this is simple. The part of the brain that sends the message, “That is not a good idea!” does not fully develop until we are well into our 20s.
Based on this, teenagers are more likely to:
- act on impulse
- misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
- engage in dangerous or risky behavior
They are less likely to:
- think before they act
- pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions
Having raised two children through their teenage years, I can attest to their ability to do the crazy things from time to time.
Which brings me to Mary. In this week’s scripture reading we are introduced to her for the first time. What do we know about her? Very little. She is engaged to Joseph and lives in Nazareth. Culturally we know a bit more. She is probably around 13 years old, which was the age when young people were sent off to marriage and child rearing. If this is true, how do we read the story of Gabriel’s visit? How does a teenage girl react to being told she will have a child before she moves in with Joseph? That the child will be a king? That all this is because she is favored by God? Luke says Mary basically says, “Whatever you say!” Really?
What if that happened to you? Even if your brain is fully developed, what would your reaction be? Come and hear more about this Sunday, December 10, the Second Sunday of Advent, at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff Preaches “Whatever You Say” based on Luke’s story of the annunciation at Luke 1: 26-38. See you then!