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Monday, August 16, 2010

Sermon from August 15, 2010: Mary, Mother of Our Lord

“Mary: Mother and More”
Luke 1:46-55

A program we at Mount Olive offer neighborhood youth is something called Jobs After School, loving known as J.A.S. (pronounced jazz). You will see the Jobs After School in the weekly calendar of events printed in the bulletin. J.A.S. is a program that is offered after school during the school year and also in the summer. The kids do a variety of jobs and receive pay for their work. They pick up trash a long a couple of city streets, they clean the pews in the sanctuary, this summer they painted a mural (which you can see a picture of it on the Neighborhood ministries bulletin board). For a while our J.A.S. kids stuffed our Sunday bulletins until too many errors were found so they were given other duties.

This past week it was raining on Wednesday so the J.A.S. kids were working indoors. I was in the pastor’s office working on some things with the door open. And a group of four girls were walking down the hallway by the offices to get some supplies. One of the girls saw the sign “pastor” on the door and said “Pastor.” I thought someone was looking for me so I replied, “yes?” “Oh,” the girl giggled as she walked by. Then I heard the whispered tones and giggles that only teen girls can do. After a few minutes the group walked by the door again. This time the young girl whispered something then I heard “Pastor,” then she whispered something else. Donna was following behind the girls and said, “She is the pastor,” referring to me. Then the girls giggling turned to laughter, “SHE’S the pastor?” They thought it was the funniest thing they ever heard. The girls made three or four trips past my door and each time they giggled.

The girl who got the most giggles for this was a 13 or 14 year old Latina girl. Donna figured she must be Roman Catholic which would explain why a woman pastor seemed to tickle her funny bone.

I thought about how this young girl with a Roman Catholic background does not have it on her radar that a woman even could be a pastor because her tradition does not allow it. I wonder if one of the reasons the role of Mary is more highlighted in the Roman Catholic tradition is so that women have someone with whom they can identify in a male dominated hierarchy.

This giggly girl could not grasp the radicalism of a woman pastor. It was so far outside of the reach of possibility all she could do was giggle.

I wonder if that might have been Mary’s first response when the Angel Gabriel announced that she would be the mother of God’s son. Remember Mary is more than likely a 13 or 14 year old teen, like the giggly J.A.S. girl. Did she giggle when she heard the news? Did she giggle in that way only teen girls can giggle? I think she might have. But unlike the disbelief of the J.A.S. girl, Mary responded with flat out faith and receptivity to God.

It is difficult for us to know what to do with Mary the Mother of Our Lord. Do we venerate her like some in the Roman Catholic tradition? Do we see her as a prophet? For her words in the magnificat are words of a prophet. Do we see her as an apostle? After all she was called and sent out with a task to literally bear Jesus to the world. Do we see her as an Evangelist? For she speaks the word of God to the world. Or do we see her as a saint? A holy one who was receptive to the will of God, who lived a life of great faith.

She fits all of these roles, but she doesn’t.

As a mother she fits this role fully but do we only see her for her womb, do we relegate her to the role of “producing” the son of God and nothing else. Do we make her so holy that she, too, was conceived in her mother’s womb by another immaculate conception, which takes away the miracle of her belief and Jesus’ conception?

The thing about Mary is that we cannot make too much out of the mother of Jesus to the extent that we miss the more she has to offer. We need to look beyond the prescribed roles to her actions.

The richness of her very being, of her faith, of her part in the plan of God, of her part in the life of Jesus all adds to the wonder of Mary the person. This is the teen girl who not only gave birth to a divine being but raised him as any mother would. She fed him, changed his diaper, rocked him to sleep, and clothed him. This is not to venerate her more than any mother, or parent, who tends to these duties, but she is raising the son of God. What is it like to have divine in-laws? Sure she had Joseph’s family and her own to ground her but what about knowing that the baby’s real father is the creator of the universe. I mean that puts a different perspective on things.

What do we do with Mary, who is the mother of the Lord and a whole lot more?

What would it be like if we looked at her as a giggling teenage girl who is open and receptive to the wonders and mysteries of God? She says that God has looked at her low estate and chose her. She then glorifies God with her words and her life.

God regards the low estate of Mary. She, then, gives birth to Jesus, who enters our low estate and changes our lives and our world.

The life of faith is one in which we step out of prescribed roles and situations and let God work. It is scary and wondrous at the same time.

So we celebrate Mary as mother of our Lord and more.

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