Today is a perfect day for me! I love this feast for all sorts of different reasons.
I love it because it is slightly quirky. Nowhere in scripture is anything at all mentioned about the birth of Mary. All we can really say, unless we believe that Jesus arrived on earth via space ship, is that it happened.
I love it, because who after all could not love something whose source is a second century document entitled the Protoevangelium of James.
That alone should give complete credence to what we are about today. While the feast itself may not date to the second century, the very human desire to know more about the people we love and honour than we are told is as real today as it was then.
I love it because it is slightly over the top. It typical Anglican fashion, we glad to remember this event, but not to say too much about it. As one wag put it, some Christians don’t believe enough about Mary, others believe too much, but Anglicans, just enough.
I love it because it appeals to the family historian in me. As I have told you before I love nothing better than spending an afternoon tramping around a cemetery looking for the graves of ancestors. My latest project is to find the graves of all 12 of my great great grandmother’s siblings. So far I have managed to find 8 of them.
I love this feast, well, because, I look great in blue!
But mostly I love this feast because of what it says about God and what it says about us.
Yes, this feast is quirky. Yes, the history of the development of scripture is fascinating and the desire of people of faith to fill in the gaps is fun. Yes, it’s good to let the imagination roam, even over the top at times. Yes, it’s good to know where and from whom we come. Yes, the vestments are gorgeous. But mostly it is good to know what it means for us to be “clothed with the light of [God’s] creation”.
From almost the beginning Christians have struggled to put into words what it means to be the chosen people of God. We have turned to theology, poetry, art, music, prose and liturgy in an attempt to put into words what it means for us, like Mary, to be clothed with the light of God’s creation, or in the words of Paul to the Romans, “to be conformed to the image of [God’s] Son.”
It is this that we celebrate today. Not that Mary alone was conformed to the image of her Son, and therefore she alone was worthy. What we celebrate by remembering Mary’s nativity is that that all of us have been called, justified and glorified for “those whom [God] foreknew, he also predestined ….And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Our destiny is not some unknown void in the great blue by and by, but to be united with God “for all eternity in the host of heaven.”
And that destiny begins not next week, or next month, or next year. That destiny begins not when we die or at the end of time. It began not last week, or last month or last year. It began not when we were born or at the beginning of time. Our destiny to live forever united with God in glory began before all time. It began before time, just as did the choice of Mary to be the mother of God’s son. All that God is waiting for is our ‘yes’. Yes to God. Yes to life. Yes to glory.
Like Mary we hold in our hands the balance of our eternal destiny. Like that day in Nazareth, the hosts of heaven wait in eager anticipation our response to God. And as with Mary, God has waited eons for our answer. And God is prepared to wait eons longer.
What we rejoice in today is not some pious legend about an elderly couple whose prayer for a child was finally answered. What we rejoice in today is not some biological or historical event that culminated in the birth of someone else. What we rejoice in today is that before time, and in time, and after time God has chosen us to love forever. Think of it: long, long before you were born, God loved you. Think of it: long, long after you die, God will continue to love you. Think of it: God loves you as much today as He did a trillion, billion years ago. Think of it: God loves you as much today as He will a trillion, billion years from now. Think of it: God chose you before time, and in time, and after time to love.
“For those whom [God] foreknew, he also predestined ….And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
And that is what we celebrate today as we remember Mary’s birth. Not that God chose Mary alone, but that like Mary we too have been chosen by God to be loved forever
And Mary waits.
And the angels wait.
And God waits.
What will you say? How will you answer?
Will you like Mary say “yes”? Yes to God? Yes to love? Yes to glory?
What will you say?
Mary is waiting.
The angels are waiting.
God is waiting.
What will your answer be?
Will you say ‘yes’?
Yes to God?
Yes to love?
Yes to glory?
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