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The Reverend Deacon Abigail Davison (Curate)
Thursday 15 August 2019, 17:15. The Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Solemn Eucharist.
This looks like no kind of blessing that I’d want. Unmarried and pregnant in a culture where some would argue that was a stonable offence. What on Earth was Mary thinking, imagining there would be anyone at all calling her blessed?
Did she just not know what she had agreed to? Was she too young, too naive to understand the implications? What on Earth was she thinking?
Well, this is no kind of Earthly blessing.
And two thousand years later, and three thousand miles away, we are indeed still calling her blessed! Are we being naive, sentimental maybe? Do we have too twee an image of motherhood, have we forgotten its dangers and struggles, especially for this girl?
Clearly, we need to rethink why Mary took this as a blessing. Maybe we need to rethink what we mean by blessing.
I wonder what we think a blessing from God actually looks like. Is it abundant wealth, health, security, respect? It’s far, far too easy, from where we’re sitting right now, in a land where (if we’re being honest) people are poor because we let them be; in this amazing, safe, building; in these golden robes even, to think that this is exactly what blessing is. And if you don’t have these things, then clearly you are not blessed, not in favour with God.
Yet, Mary didn’t have these things – she grew up in Roman occupied first century Palestine.
Not even her child, Jesus who is the Christ, had these things!
If you wanted to go through a list of the Saints and Martyrs who have gone before us, or even to go around the Saints gathered here or gathering around the world to worship today, I wonder how many we would find who could say that they are abundantly wealthy, comfortable, respected, safe and in good health?
Were they not blessed: are we not blessed?
I wonder this – what if we stopped thinking of blessing in such worldly terms?
What if being blessed is about being equipped to fully take up our part in God’s mission for the world? To become everything God wants us to be.
That starts with being redeemed: that starts with Christ.
I wonder if Mary’s feeling of blessedness is less about her having a baby (by the world’s standards, you wouldn’t be far off calling that a curse!). What if it’s because she is the first to know our redemption is at hand – it has been promised, many faithful people have waited for it, but Mary knows it is here. She has said yes to her part in it.
Mary did not choose an easy path, blessed by the world’s standards, she chose to be blessed by God. And holding true to all God’s blessings, that blessing is one she shared with the world.
It is a blessing that is offered to you now, not least in the Eucharist [which we are about to celebrate]. If you haven’t already, will you come and be blessed, not as the world blesses, but as God blesses.
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