Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary – morning
Sunday 8th September 2019
Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary – morning
Isa. 61. 10,11
Luke 1. 46-55
Revd Preb Maureen Hobbs
How do you show you are excited about something I wonder?
Not just looking forward to an event, but really, really excited? Jumping up and down sort of excited! – Well maybe that is how you would register your excitement – jumping up and down.
When I get Jandi’s food ready for her that is how she tells me how excited she is! Even at 12 years old…. which is quite venerable in doggy years, even if in human terms we are still quite young at that age, she jumps up and down with her front paws – usually moving backwards infront of me as I carry her bowl to the place where she is fed!
Maybe some of you like not just to jump, but to run as well? Perhaps when you go on holiday and arrive at the beach? Who goes running down to the water’s edge as soon as they can? I know I used to do that! Then hopped around taking off my shoes and socks so I could get my feet in the sea and paddle!
And what is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you – so far!?
We have four young ladies here this morning who (I hope) are really excited about receiving their first communion today. They have been waiting for this moment for quite some time. They have prepared for it and learned a bit about what communion means for Christians. They have even tasted the wine and wafers – unconsecrated, so that it does not come as too much of a shock – but they won’t know what it is really like, until it finally happens in a few moments. And that first experience will be unique to them and can never be repeated.
And I am sure that as they continue to mature – as human beings and as Christians, their understanding of the true nature of Holy Communion will change and develop as it does for all of us, although there is always something of Divine Mystery that remains, no matter how old we become and how often we receive those potent symbols of God’s love for each of us.
This morning we heard again the familiar words of Mary’s Song. The song that she bursts out with spontaneously when she is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth who recognizes the hidden secret that Mary holds within her at this point. Mary is bearing the Christ Child – and Elizabeth suddenly realises the significance of their meeting as her own unborn baby moves within her in response to Mary’s greeting. Elizabeth hails Mary as the Mother of the Saviour of the world. It is a fantastic, exciting moment.
I imagine that all pregnant women feel a mixture of excitement and terror – especially when expecting their first child. And you can prepare yourself for what is to come – but until the moment when the labour pains begin, you can never really know what giving birth will be like! Probably just as well – or fewer of us would be prepared to go through it!
But whatever the pain and hard work that is involved in bringing a new human being into the world, I have never heard a Mum – or a Dad, say it was not worth it when that precious baby is placed into their arms for the first time!
Mary nourishes the infant Jesus through the waiting time of pregnancy and then after he is born she continues to nourish him as he grows up. And in more ways than just providing his food. As a Jewish mother, Mary would have taught the child Jesus about the faith of his ancestors. The faith of the Jewish people. The faith that would make him what and who he was.
That is one reason why we sometimes refer to the Church as our mother. The church is also responsible for nurturing us as we grow in our faith. Beginning often with our baptism into God’s church, we are fed and nurtured with stories and the word of God. But then comes a time when we need perhaps a bit more to convince us that we belong, that we are part of this amazing family that extends now right around the world. If we follow Jesus Christ, then we should obey his instruction to remember him whenever we share food and drink, and especially when we come together to worship God. Then we share in bread and wine to remind ourselves by engaging more than just one of our senses – that of hearing – quite how much God loves us. Loves us so much that he is prepared to give up his life for us, such that through the sharing of bread – in the form of a wafer; and the sharing of a cup of wine, we can put ourselves there with him and we take a little bit of him out with us into the world and our daily lives. We become the God-bearers.
Mary was the God-bearer in a special and unique way, and her excitement spilled over into a song of thanksgiving to God, but also a song of revolution. Mary is convinced that God is doing a wonderful new thing in the world – something with the potential to make wrong things right, something that takes the traditions of her people and makes them new and relevant for people living today.
Our four new communicants this morning will have their own song to discover as they continue to grow and mature. With them, let us pray that their excitement and joy will continue into their future and that they too will play their part in God’s extraordinary and thrilling revolution. Amen.