Friday, August 13, 2010

Feast Day of St. Mary the Mother of our Lord

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:46-55).

This is the song that Mary sings as she rejoices in the fruit of her womb.  The first fruits of Jesus, whom was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.  The song that she sings is the greatest symphony – the grandest opera to be sung on this side of heaven.  That is why we call it the Magnificat – which simply means, “My soul magnifies.”        

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Mary, the mother of our Lord.  It is fitting that we follow the traditions of the church and commemorate this special day.  This is the day of Mary’s falling asleep in the arms of her Son and her Lord.  Only the Christian church can truly celebrate death.  For only in death is our baptism completed.  Falling asleep in Jesus that we might live in time and in eternity.  For to die in Christ is to be raised with him in His glorious resurrection.  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints (Ps. 116:15).

Week in and week out we confess the creed – and together – every time we say some words about Jesus, being born of a virgin woman named Mary.  We are not recalling a bedtime story or a fable when we do this. I believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

We are confessing a historical event.  That something definite – actually happened.  That God from heaven above came down to rest in the womb of a young virgin mother, whose name is Mary.  We confess that God who governs the winds, and the waves – the sun and the stars - feeds the birds of the air – also sucks at the breasts of a Nazareth servant girl named Mary. 

Eve had given her ear to the message of the serpent.  She listened to the council of the wicked and she succumbed by the assault of false doctrine and lies.  Through Adam sin entered into the world.  And therefore suffering, pain and ultimately death.  Now man worked through the sweat of his brow.  And Eve and all women were consigned to bring forth children in pain.

But even after the fall, God promised that he would send a seed to reverse the curse of Eden.  He sent manna in the desert.  He was the rock that gushed forth water in the wilderness.  He delivered His church by parting the Red Sea and drowning evil and hardhearted Pharaoh.  He came in the burning bush.  And promised to be in His Temple with the arc of the covenant – the Holy of Holies.   

But now our Mary receives the angelic message that God will no longer dwell in the temple, a burning bush, nor a cloud by day or pillar of fire by night - but will enter in as a child – to be among us – as one of us. Mary as the new Eve of Paradise, believed that Word of God and was impregnated by that Word of faith.  As Elizabeth says, blessed are you among women.  And who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

You may be thinking.  Well, who are we that the Lord should come to us?  So what about all this!  Mary, with her holiness, with her blessedness, I am sure she has a special spot in heaven.  Thats all fine and good but what about me?  I am not a virgin.  I am not as blessed as Mary.  I did not walk with Jesus when he was here on earth.  And I am certainly not within His inner circle – with Mary and the disciples.  I do not feel blessed and filled with good things. 

I am a nothing.  I have become bored and indifferent to the Christian faith.  I have not honored my marriage vows.  I have been mired by sin and by broken dreams.  I have let my children down.  I have given up on this being a Christian and stuff.  I keep failing.  I have been in dark and unspeakable places where no light can shine.    

Dear Christian.  Hear the Gospel.  Jesus did not come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous.  Jesus himself says “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."  Sinners of low estate and of humble means.  Yes, even like Mary.  The mercy that Jesus brings is for the lowly, the weak, the despised, the hungry.  Mercy isn’t wanted by those who are proud, strong, famous and full.  Christ is not for those who think that have it all together.  He does not come for those who think that there is nothing more that they need.  They can’t imagine going begging before God – praying, Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.

No, Christ is for those for whom things have fallen apart.  He is for those who know that they deserve nothing good.  St. Mary sings in her song “He has exalted the lowly and filled the hungry with good things.”  Jesus comes for the hungry and for those who need what He gives. 

From the virgin soil of Eden the first man came.  And from the virgin womb of Mary the last man came – the new Adam – our Jesus.  Mary is the new Eve who planted a new Eden – a new paradise from her bulging belly – impregnated by the Word of God made flesh.  The same Word that said ‘Let there be light’ planted Himself within the womb of a simple handmaiden.  A little beating heart under hers.  With flesh and blood, an infant priest, to be laid on the altar that Isaac escaped from.  Crucified at Calvary’s tree and punished for our offenses.     

This Christ, our savior Jesus, came to speak a Word to you.  For He is the eternal Word made flesh.  And He is for you.  More than all, he came to forgive you, and wipe clean your slate.  To forgive and remove all of your sins.  A job that you could never accomplish on your own.  For without the intervention and coming of the infant child, we are dead in our trespasses, and without hope.      

But with Christ you have hope.  Just like Mary you are also blessed.  You are doubly blest.  For you have been made a hearer of this Gospel.  With Mary we may sing her beautiful opera with her.  My soul magnifies the Lord.  And my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he hath regarded our lowliness and our desperate need.  For the mighty One has done great things, and Holy is His name.  He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 

Dear Christian, You who have heard and have believed.  For every soul that hears, conceives and brings forth the Word of God, and confesses his works.  That Jesus descended into hell to declare a victory over sin, death, and the devil.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

Like Mary, God has found favor with you.  Not because anything in and of yourselves.  But like Mary you bear Christ and all his promises in your very body.  For you have been filled with good things.  Washed clean in holy baptism and therefore united with your loving Lord.  The first fruits of Jesus have been placed upon your lips and his body will be placed in the lowly manger of your mouth.

You, dear Christian are highly favored.  God has regarded you as a saint.  A holy one of God.  This is only the work of God not your own.  God has done it for you.  And in faith you are invited believe this.  It is more true that anything. And He loves you just as much as He loved his mother Mary.  For you are in His holy family.  He calls you son, daughter, brother, and sister.  He calls you my name.

When you pass from this earthly life, like Mary, all generations will call you blessed.  The Mighty One, Jesus, has stretched out his arm to redeem you.  And He has done all things well, especially for you.    

In the name of Jesus. Amen.     

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