When I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the first thing that comes to mind is a worship drama in which I participated a few years ago. I’m not one for worship drama, but this was different from anything I had seen. It was on an Advent Wednesday evening, at Vespers service. The drama was written by my supervising pastor on internship and it had only two parts: Mary and Gabriel. It was like two simultaneous monologs woven together.
Gabriel, spoken by the pastor, was at the back of the sanctuary. He began speaking about creation and the dawn of time, God’s love and our fall. Mary, spoken by me, was at the front of the sanctuary. I began with Israel’s hope in the Messiah during dark times. We took turns telling our parts of the story, moving closer to the moment when Gabriel would speak to Mary of her child. The Annunciation. Gabriel and Mary’s paths intersected right in front of the altar. The news of the coming Messiah is spoken. Mary ascents. And then the Magnificat.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my savior. For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant and from now on, all generations will call me blessed…..
I spoke the words of Mary, of her telling the salvation history of her people, of her telling the salvation history of my people as well. The future salvation of the world. In that moment, in that intersection of divine messenger and earthly girl, all creation was tied together.
The paths of Mary and Gabriel seemed to diverge here, each telling their view of the earthly life of Jesus. Mary, loosing her son and finding him in the temple, watching him turn water into wine, seeing the crowds press in on him. Gabriel, divulging the plot to kill Jesus, Pilate washing his hands, Jesus mocked and beaten, the road to the hill of the skull. And now, at the foot of the cross, Gabriel and Mary stand. In silence.
Then Mary, then I as Mary, moved to stand among the people of the congregation. Gabriel turned to us all and said: why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has been raised.
August 15th is the festival of St Mary, Mother of Our Lord. What does Mary mean for us today? What does she have to say to us now? Most protestants are quite allergic to things surrounding Mary, perhaps fearing to be ‘too Catholic’ or perhaps leery of attributing salvific action to the wrong source. In what seemed like faithfulness, have we lost a priceless treasure of the church? Martin Luther himself said, Truly she is the Queen of Heaven. Maybe, if nothing else, Mary perpetually reminds us of the mystery of God woven inextricably into the human. Mary persists and endures in our hearts, her song giving voice to all that is small, forgotten, pushed to the side and seemingly insignificant. Maybe Mary is the proof that all that smallness is never forgotten by God and is, actually, priceless. Maybe Mary teaches us what a life becomes when it is permeated by God.