Last Sunday I was chatting to Rosemarie about this weekend, and how busy the church might be, with Heritage Days and Patronal Festival being held over the same weekend.
In our conversation, my thoughts came to this morning, as I didn’t know where to focus my thoughts as I juggled the readings and heritage and Mary.
Rosemarie’s final comment was – whatever you do – don’t forget Mary.
So, being given that instruction, I have called today’s words – Don’t forget Mary. A good instruction for us all, as we gather to commemorate and celebrate our Patron Saint.
In order to even consider forgetting anyone, we must begin by knowing them. Mary is no different; we must first know her and understand a little more about why she is revered and why she has an important role in the Church and the world.
Since that conversation, last week, the word of Mary’s Song of Praise – The Magnificat – have shaped my thinking, and I want to focus on those words as we explore the importance of Mary.
How often do you look at the statue here to my right, perhaps when you’re lighting a candle? It’s often easy to walk by her, and not to take in her beauty.
And art has allowed us to assume just that – she was beautiful. Also humble, modest, demure and young – but inside that soft shell I think there was a powerful, extraordinary woman who was willing to say yes to God!
The opening words of The Magnificat, recalls her joy at God choosing her to be the mother of Jesus.
She sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” To magnify something is to make things look bigger.. and perhaps this isn’t such a bad place to start — when Mary sings the Magnificat, she wants to make God look bigger, to draw attention to his greatness.
We cannot make God bigger; we cannot make God more than God is. So why does Mary choose this word? Maybe it is that, when we truly praise someone, ‘we make them bigger in the sense of giving them more room: we step back, we put our preoccupations and goals and plans aside.
Her yes to God, wasn’t just a passive acceptance of God’s will but an active participation in his plan.
For Mary says too that ‘he that is mighty hath magnified me’. As she gives room to God, God makes her greater. We cannot see God and Mary as opposed to each other ….the more God, the less Mary. When Mary gives room to God, God gives room to her: her humanity blossoms into its fullest glory.
So one reason not to forget Mary – she said yes to God. By God making her great, she made him greater.
Secondly, I don’t want us to forget Mary because of what she will do for us in the future.
The second line I want to consider here is from this day all generations shall call me blessed. Maybe, here’s Mary’s hope for the future that she might be remembered for her part in God’s plan for salvation.
Today as we know is the final day of our Heritage Weekend, and a chance learn about and to say thank you to all those who have stood where I am, or sat where you are, for nearly 900 years.
St Mary’s has witnessed comings and goings, trials and tribulations, happy and sad times. St Mary’s the church the community, will be here after we have all gone too and Mary will always have a place here forever, and she will be revered and remembered by future generations.
Mary represents the humble, the outcast, the marginalised of her society, but in a way her saying yes to God, she elevated herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation.
She was a young woman, fearful and alone and with a child. This would have been a tough thing to bear in first century Palestine. Mary chose not to be silent, but to say yes to God, to co-operate with his plan out of love for him.
Her legacy of God’s promise being made real in Jesus Christ our Saviour is a gift to us now and for future generations.
So my two reasons not to forget Mary. Firstly, she said Yes to God, and by doing so, made God great. In what way is God calling you in this place to say yes to him?
Secondly, she knew that saying yes to God would allow her to be remembered by him, through Jesus her Son for future generations. How can we leave a legacy today for tomorrow?
My initial thoughts were centred on the birth story of Jesus, but our gospel for today focusses on her role in the end of Jesus’ earthly life, at the foot of the cross. Jesus hands his mother over to the care of the disciple he loved. She could do no more for him, but he needed to know she would be looked after in her older years.
Mary had gone full circle, plucked by God from obscurity as a young woman, to be the bearer of his Son to the world, and just as he gives up his life for the world, she is placed back into the care of the disciple and the world.
Mary is so essential to the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ; it would be imaginable if we were to forget her.
I could finish there, but of course I want to acknowledge today there is of course another lady for who our prayers and thanks are offered to today. Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II has left a very profound lasting legacy for this country, the Commonwealth, and to millions across the world.
Like Mary the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was just a young woman, when she too said yes and her life changed forever; promise which would last for 70 years.
Her unwavering personal commitment, devoted service and steadfast faith in God, should remain as an example to us all. We have much to give thanks for, to remember and to mourn…and the as the world moves forward in this historic change we give thanks for all that has been and all that will be.
So today on this historic day in our time our time we pray that the example of witness, humility, love and courage of Mary our Patron, and Queen Elizabeth the Second of blessed and glorious memory are a legacy and an example to us all.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord
And light perpetual shine upon her.
May she rest in peace, and rise in glory.