Friday, December 19, 2014

The Problem of Mary



Gate Pa – Advent 4 2014
Readings:
First Reading:             2 Sam 7:1-11, 16        
Second Reading:        Rom 16:25-27            
Gospel:                        Luke 1:26-38              

What I want to say:
I want to explore the role Mary plays helping us enter into the mystery of Christmas, and living out God’s faith, hope, peace and hope for all people the rest of the year.

What I want to happen:
Who is Mary for me? How does she help or hinder my life in Christ?

The Sermon

     1.       Introduction:

Focus of 4th Sunday is traditionally Mary
Nice
I wonder – who is this Mary?
-          how we understand her?
-          what way  does she help or hinder our life in Christ?

     2.       Mary the enigma

Mary has been an enigma, even a problem since very beginning
see it in way NT treats her
                Mark – most memorable appearance –with Jesus’ brothers and sisters and try take him home – think off his rocker
                Matthew not much better – although at empty tomb
                John – not mentioned by name
                Paul – not mentioned at all
                Luke presented positive and important light
                                not in ways usually portrayed since writing NT
                                                – model of womenhood or of motherhood
                                but model of Christians discipleship
                                                – i.e. one who all people, men and women should emulate

     3.       The Church – one extreme

Church also struggled over centuries – whole range responses to her
-          some in medieval thought – elevate her to Goddess
o   quartenity – putting her par and including her in Trinity
Most Christians – Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglo Catholic, some Lutherans (vast majority Christians world wide) –very significant figure
                Mother of God
                which some – just under level of God
2 friend in Israel over last couple weeks doing course @ St. Georges College– photo of tomb of Mary
-          Orthodox tomb
-          RC – no tomb
o   Believe she was bodily assumed into heaven
Because of our Protestant heritage –
-          mother of God can make us feel very uncomfortable
 Miss that in these traditions she is one leads us into the mystery of Incarnation
                God most holy came among us as one of us in person of Jesus
Angelus – prayed by Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans up to 3 times a day
-          Hear again words Angel heard today,
-          invited to reflect on what that might mean for us
within Orthodox tradition known as theotokis
-          literally means bringing forth of God, God bearer
-          acts as model for us all – that we become God bearers here and now
Franciscans – she is our patron saint
-          lot of prayers addressed to her

     4.       The church - other extreme

other extreme
-          Protestant church
-          who in reaction to above
o   work hard almost write her out of story
except at Christmas – hard to ignore
one commentaries read pointed out
-          in America very few protestant churches named after Mary
-          many more Andrew, Mark, Stephen – play relatively less important roles
same true here I suspect

     5.       The real Mary

Maybe place start is with real Mary
  • What comes to mind when hear about Mary?
  • When look for image of Mary
    • Amazed so many wealthy young woman
  • Far from truth
  • Peasant girl,  (peasant girl)
  • Lived in cave with family (Mary’s cave)
  • Small poor village Nazareth – not thought highly of
  • No say in her life
    • Done what mother commanded
    • Learning what meant to be wife
    • So that when father arranged marriage, (as he had) she could honour family name being good dutiful wife
    • fulfil her duty well
To this young peasant girl Matthew and Luke tell us comes Archangel Gabriel
We often talk about Mary's being willing - assumes choice
o           Unsure if she even has a choice,
o           Lived without choice
o           No choice in angles words
o           Mary's question is not one of choice, just confusion, how can this be
o           She does as she. is expected
o           More than accept
o           In Luke at least – she understands that something significant is happening here
o           I am not sure that Mary said Magnficat where Luke has it
o           can’t even know if she said it
o           I wonder
o             this is just me here, not read this in commentaries
o           just me speculating
o           wonder if Luke had met, even knew Mary
o             which is why he gives her more prominence
o           Mary’s Song - the Magnificat something that she said at end of her life
o           placed in here in her pregnancy
o           No longer just 12 year old peasant girl betrothed to carpenter
o           She is agent of God’s liberation, God's sign of hope for her people liberation now

 6. The Song of Mary

Why are there poor?
a lot of different understandings about why there are poor people
will of God
                some (those deserve it) are rich powerful, many poor
                how it should be
                theology at work in All Things Bright and Beautiful
lazy
uneducated
needed keep businesses going
sure many other reasons
all which either say
                how ti should be
                their fault
if we keep all those in mind when read Magnificat
Mary counters every single one of those arguments
offers an alternative
o   in Luke, these words link coming of Jesus directly into hopes Mary and family and village for an end roman rule and restoration of David's kingdom.                                       (picture of a young girl)
o        Coming Christ is not just about future, but in Luke is about reign of God's justice now
o        Mary is to be the sign of that
·           Luke at least, Christmas is coming of Gods hope
·           Cry poor has been heard
·           Gods reign justice and peace has begun
·         as heard last week:
good news is brought to the poor.
release to the captives is proclaimed
the blind recover their sight,
the oppressed go free,
the year of the Lord's favour is proclaimed!”[1]

       7.       Who then is Mary for us?

how what role does she play in our life in Christ?
                talk to neighbour
                report back
Say Angelus


The Angelus (1857–59)
by Jean-Fran├žois Millet
Christian Prayers: The Angelus
You can pray the prayer on your own, or in a group.
If praying in a group, the leader prays the part marked V, and the group responds with the part in italics marked R.

The Angelus
V. The angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. 

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

V. Let us pray: Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
R. Amen
The Angelus (1857–59)
by Jean-Fran├žois Millet
Christian Prayers: The Angelus
You can pray the prayer on your own, or in a group.
If praying in a group, the leader prays the part marked V, and the group responds with the part in italics marked R.

The Angelus
V. The angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. 

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

V. Let us pray: Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
R. Amen



[1]               'The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version, 1996, c I989 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mary



We enter the fourth week of Advent, this time with the theme of love. This Sunday traditionally focusses on Mary. To hear some of the back story to Mary and her son we take a break from Isaiah this week and instead hear David’s request of Nathan that he, David, build a permanent home for God in his, David’s, city. It was an astute political and religious move on David’s behalf – Jerusalem was his and his families, and it would tie God’s presence and action for ever with them. But God says taihoa, and instead offers to build David’s house and establish his family on the throne.
To move our attention to Mary, the gospel reading shifts again from Mark – our gospel of the year – this time to Luke. Luke is the one gospel to exalt Mary. The others are much more low key in their presentation. So on the day we traditionally focus our attention on Mary it is right to hear from Luke. Mary has been presented in a number of ways or is downplayed and ignored. Luke exalts Mary not as a mother, or as the ideal women, but as the ideal disciple. Luke presents Mary as the one we should emulate if we too wish to follow her son. Like her son, Mary responds to God’s outrageous request/command (does she really have a choice in this) with a combination of humble trust and obedient service – just like her son in Gethsemane.
We will not be reciting a psalm this week, and instead I invite you to read the Magnificat – the fruits of Mary’s initial pondering of all that is happening. This young girl from a poor family in a poor village in the outback of Galilee has become the vehicle for God’s work of salvation. The result is a protest song, in the tradition of protest songs by other prophetic women. In a world where it was understood that the poor were poor and the rich and powerful were rich and powerful because that is how God made things we have this powerful and prophetic song that speaks of the importance and priority of the poor in the eyes of God. God counters all the myths that hold the poor in their place of poverty and restores them as the people of God.
As we enter into the fourth week of Advent take a moment to think about what this song might say about our own society, our own world this Christmas. How does Mary help us embrace the way of love this Christmas? How does she invite us to join with her son in the Way of Love?