This Sunday is the Nation’s observance of Mother’s Day, and therefore it is perhaps fitting and timely to look to our patron saint, Mary, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, for guidance and inspiration now that we are about to enter a new era under the leadership of a new rector.
In the course of Church history much has grown up around the persona of Mary theologically, dogmatically, and in terms of veneration. The New Testament records Mary’s presence approximately a dozen times; and she is one of two persons mentioned by name in the Nicene Creed. Throughout all these events and circumstances, she remained true to her “call” that God’s love would prevail. She was never shaken in her faith. And this sense of purpose as “handmaid of the Lord” is inspirationally expressed in Mary’s own words from the Magnificat: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…His mercy extends to those fear him, from generation to generation.” The angel Gabriel greeted her as being “full of grace”, which means God lived within her; and in this time of change and transition for us may some examples from Mary’s life fill us with grace as well to, in our generation, also glorify and magnify the Lord.
Perhaps one of the more appropriate events to look to for guidance from Mary is the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) when she said to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” The irony of this account of Christ’s first miracle was that the water he turned into wine was the best and last to be served, not as was the custom of serving the best first. In other words, our future may not necessarily be predictable or what we anticipate based on what has come before. But like Mary we will continue to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Another example of Mary for us are the several visitations at Jesus’ nativity; in one instance humble shepherds in another learned wisemen. This was a sign that the Christ Mary bore and nursed came to save everyone. His kingdom is inclusive. Bonita Springs hosts a diverse society in a multitude of ways. Perhaps we will be called to expand our efforts to reach out to those places and individuals who need the healing presence of God’s love.
Thirdly, in her life-long “bearing witness” Mary evangelized the life of her incarnate son and carried the Gospel into the world. May St. Mary’s expand the presence of Christ to the wider community as we grow spiritually and numerically.
Mary embodied obedience, humbleness, prayerfulness, perseverance, love, faithfulness, and she “bore witness”. Similarly, may we be led to develop these gifts and graces.
It is difficult to avoid Mary’s presence at St. Mary’s parish; she is literally everywhere, inside and out. Our new rectors presence among us will loom large as well, whether it is in worship, preaching the Gospel, in prayer, pastoral care, setting an agenda for our life together in community, and, as we read from St. Paul (Ephesians 4:12): “…to equip his (God’s) people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up… .” Shouldn’t we, the clergy, staff and parishioners of St. Mary’s parish seek to do likewise at this all too obvious moment in our history?