A number of years ago when I was in the sixth form cafe getting a cuppa, a student said to me, “Sir, you know for the Christmas service this year? Could you put in the song Mary did you know?” I said, “Sure. Why do you want that song?” She replied “Because we love it” and then, with her eyes narrowing, she added “and you left it out last year.” What I hadn’t realised was that this had caused somewhat of an uproar among the students. And to add to this, a number of staff also requested it too!
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the moment when Mary said “Yes” to God’s invitation to be the mother of Jesus. And not just Jesus the man but also Jesus who was God in human form. You see, we have heard this story so many times that it becomes so familiar that it loses it’s impact. Since we know how it all ends, we can forget that people like Mary didn’t. We can even believe that Mary did know everything that was going to happen. She is Mary, the mother of God!
When Mary said “yes” she changed the history of the world. That’s no small thing. But it also brought great hardship; being a teenage girl pregnant before marriage was punishable by death; she had to leave her home and become a refugee with Joseph and her baby as a tyrant was committing infanticide in Bethlehem; she had to search all Jerusalem to find her son who had gone missing (you may know that feeling), she had to deal with her local villagers’ comments about her son who thought he was the “great I am,” she had to wait agonisingly as her son was being put on trial for treason by the Roman governor; she stood at the foot of the cross and watched as her son die slowly and painfully, gasping for breath before he breathed his last.
She didn’t know everything. But the reason we honour this amazing woman is because we believe that she trusted in God through it all. She felt the pain, the anxiety, the worry that every mother feels but she kept trusting God’s promise…what would seem impossible would be possible. And this trust was rewarded – resurrection. She could then see that through the ups and downs and the highs and lows of life, God was not absent. God was at work, weaving meaning and hope amidst difficulty and apparent meaninglessness.
Maybe today you may need this faith. Maybe you are going through some of the situations, emotions and feelings she experienced. Ask Mary to walk alongside you. Ask her to help you to see a greater picture than the one that you are painting.
Loving God, in this time of uncertainty and suffering for many people around the world, we ask for the gift of faith. We don’t know why this is happening and we have many questions. But help us to have trust in you – to believe that you are working through these events and in the particular situations we are experiencing, so as to lead us to reach towards a greater common good, which will unite and heal us; in our families, our city, our nation and in our world. Amen.