Regular readers of the blog will know that I tend to skew to the low-church side of Anglicanism. I’m not big on vestments for vestments’ sake. I can see the beauty in a service of Evensong filled with incense and polyphonic choir anthems, but it isn’t a key part of my spirituality. I love the sacraments of the Church, but I don’t believe that baptism is, in and of itself salvific, or that the Eucharist becomes the physical body and blood of Jesus through the Words of Institution. Apropos to the title of this post, I don’t have much of a theology of Mary, let alone her perpetual virginity and immaculate conception, and she’s not a big player in my prayer life.
I do, however, think that she is an important character in the larger story of God’s plan for salvation, and I’m more than willing to give her the title of Theotokos, the Mother of God. It is through her faithfulness that humanity is able to find salvation in Jesus Christ, and in her life we find the example of what it looks like for someone who is fully human to live faithfully into the Gospel. I’d even go so far as to suggest that we replace those old WWJD bracelets with WWMD, What Would Mary Do?
There will be more to say on this topic next week, since in Year B, Mary’s story is highlighted not on Gaudete Sunday (Advent 3), but on Advent 4. However, included in this Sunday’s lessons is the option of replacing the Psalm with Canticle 15, the Song of Mary, the Magnificat. This song, sung by Mary during her visit with Elizabeth, is a profound statement of faith from a young girl whose life is full of uncertainty and fear. Even in the midst of her struggles, she finds enough strength from deep within to sing out, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” I mean, if only I could have such faith in the midst of even a quarter of Mary’s adversity.
She’s young. She’s unwed. She’s pregnant, and the story of her baby’s conception is 100% beyond belief. And yet, she has faith in the promises of God; faith so strong that her entire song is in the past tense. She sings a song of praise to God and the salvation of the world even as she struggles with morning sickness near the end of her first trimester. She is so certain of the promises of God, she knows that even as the plan is unfolding within her womb, they are coming true.
I’m thankful for Mary’s example of faithfulness, and I pray that the Spirit might give me the strength to trust in the promises of God, even as they continue to unfold in and through the Church, the Body of Christ, the Son of Mary.