September 30, 2014

Advent IV: Blessed Is She Who Believed

Madonna Adoring the Child, Basaiti

ADVENT IVC

  • Micah 5:2-5a
  • Luke 1:46b-55
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45

Prayer of the Day
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that binds us, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

* * *

Blessed Is She Who Believed (Luke 1:49-55)
A Meditation on Mary

 

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

- Luke 1:42

O Mary, you are blessed. You have a gracious God. No woman has ever lived on earth to whom God has shown such grace. You are the crown among them all.

- Martin Luther

We honor Mary because God honored her.

We honor Mary because good children honor their parents, and Jesus, Mary’s Child, honored and respected his Mother. How can we, who are children of God by faith in Jesus, do less? Who can plumb the depths of feeling in a child’s heart for a dear mother? With all affection, we, the adopted daughters and sons of God, gaze at the Mother of our Lord and call her blessed.

We honor Mary, for through her God brought an end to the bitterness of his people.

The Hebrew form of her name is “Miriam,” which means “bitter myrrh.” Does her name reflect her family’s circumstances or those surrounding her own birth? Or does it reflect the bitter exile of her people, their bondage under foreign domination, the dashed hopes of God’s Kingdom long awaited and nowhere in sight? Is her name evidence of her family’s faith, a lament crying out to God for his gracious intervention?

O blessed Mary, who brought joy to all people, we honor you for enduring the bitter pain of birth. You who represent the exiled people of Israel, we bless you, who found no room among human company in which to bear your holy Child.

It is likely that Mary was a young woman, perhaps thirteen to fifteen years old. Engaged to be married, she found herself to be with child. How difficult for us to grasp the shame and fear this must have caused her! The embarrassment to her family! Did she hide away? Did she shed tears when the neighbors talked? How comforting the kind gentleness of Joseph must have been to her!

We honor you, Mary, for enduring disgrace that we might know the freedom of forgiveness.

She was a humble maiden from a small town. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Few would have expected she would ever achieve recognition or honor. God did not choose a daughter of wealth and privilege with promising prospects, but a lowly girl from a rustic village. And so his grace is magnified in Mary.

Blessings and laud to you, dear Mary. Beyond all expectation, God has lifted you up. Surely he has looked with favor on your lowliness! Surely, all generations will call you blessed! Surely in mercy he has set aside the powerful and rich in favor of the poor and needy. You represent all who have nothing to offer, who can only receive, who must be fed or go hungry.

Mary received a word from God that was incredible — she, a virgin girl, would bear a Son. With trembling heart she heard the angel’s message. In faith, she received that word: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” And thus we learn that our Mother is a person of faith, and at her knee we learn to trust God’s promises.

We honor and bless you Mary, for leading us to salvation by grace through faith. We will enter heaven by trusting in the Child you bore. You have brought us the greatest gift of all, the treasure that all loving mothers give to their children — the gift of Life.

Blessed are you: Mother of our Lord, greatest of the Mothers of Israel, Mother of all who believe. Your children bless you!

Comments

  1. Christiane says:

    Our Mother of Consolation: a picture of Mary embracing and comforting a weeping Eve

    In preparing her abbey’s annual Christmas card in 2005, a Trappistine nun in Iowa wrote a beautiful poem of Mary addressing Eve:

    “O Eve!

    My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,

    Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.

    The former things have passed away,

    Our God has brought us to a New Day.

    See, I am with Child,

    Through whom all will be reconciled.

    O Eve! My sister, my friend,

    We will rejoice together

    Forever

    Life without end.”

    (Sr. Columba Guare copyright© 2005 Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey)

    One of her sisters then drew this stunning picture for the card:
    http://blog.archny.org/steppingout/images/evemary.jpg

  2. Amen, CM!

  3. Are you sure you’re Lutheran?

    • I suggest reading Luther’s Christmas sermons, Bob.

      In addition, do you read anything in here that offends your Protestant sensibilities? If some Catholics have made too much of Mary, is it possible that we in Reformation traditions have made too little?

      • And isn’t this a way we can express our identity in the holy, catholic (small c) church? Protestant & Catholic can surely appreciate the utter humility & beautiful grace of Mary in accepting God’s call. She bears the same hope as another Miriam (Moses’ sister) did in waiting & believing that God would deliver them.

      • Decades ago I read and loved Victor Buksbazen’s book, Miriam, the Virgin of Nazareth. What I do not love is the usurping by attributing to Mary the things that make her Son special — the Immaculate Conception replacing the Incarnation, the Assumption replacing the Resurrection and Ascension, the declaring her to be “the co-mediatrix of all grace” replacing the plain teaching of scripture that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus — those things, if they do not offend my Protestant sensibilities, certainly give me pause. It is a slippery slope on which my favorite blog is determined to walk.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Catholics often obsess about St Mary, while Protestants just as often snub her completely.

        • Christiane says:

          God did not snub Mary. Protestants, in avoiding Mary, are ‘reacting’ to the deep Catholic reverence for the Blessed Mother;
          better Protestants should get to know the Mary of the Scriptures and call her ‘blessed’ in fulfillment of what is written about her . . .

          re-introducing Mary may come through the new way Protestants are embracing Advent as a season of preparation for Christmas . . . we shall see :)

  4. Marcus Johnson says:

    Nothing here offends my Protestant sensibilities per se, but the phrase about how Mary should be praised for “leading us to salvation by grace through faith” feels a little creepy.

    Other than that, as long as we agree that the same honor and glory that we bestow on Mary can be applied to anyone who allows themselves to be used for God’s purpose, then I’m cool.

    • Luke presents her as one of the great exemplars of faith, a Matriarch of Israel, just as Sarah and Rachel, Ruth and the other mothers of Israel were. Above all, she exemplifies one who received grace and responded with faith and thus leads us to do the same. That is what I meant by that phrase.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Works for me.