sensing the call of Mary...

I have long had a love/hate relationship with John the Baptist - and so I am so glad we are moving towards the Virgin Mary this week in worship. First of all, while I appreciate the heart of his message, the Baptist is too strident and harsh for my pastoral tastes. His speech is too judgmental and his disposition too binary. Life is just more complicated than his ministry allows for.So while I dig John as the Christian connection to the Green Man, but I think Barbara Brown Taylor gets it right:

Silence was the backdrop against which the Word began to be heard. While Jesus stood in the wings, John the Baptist prepared the way, using such ferocious language that many must have expected a fire-breathing messiah to drop from the sky. Instead it was Jesus who came among them, making so little noise that even John did not know who he was at first. And even when he spoke, Jesus created silence. Many of his saying were so cryptic that no response was possible, while others were so offensive that replies were withheld. "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who abuse you." Any questions?

Second Mary is open to ambiguity and trusts without more than God's promise. Further, someone has suggested that she was the first Eucharistic minister as she brought the Body of Christ to her beloved cousin Elizabeth and stayed with the old woman until Liz gave birth to the Baptist. What an incredible model of faithful servant she is to me - and I still yearn to be closer to her spirit. .So I'm looking forward to Advent IV this Sunday where the heart of worship is Mary's song of quiet acceptance. And as much as John Shelby Spong doesn't make it for me as Biblical scholar, I appreciate this contemporary setting of the Magnificat.

My soul sings in gratitude.
I’m dancing in the mystery of God.
The light of the Holy One is within me
and I am blessed, so truly blessed.

This goes deeper than human thinking.
I am filled with awe
at Love whose only condition
is to be received.

The gift is not for the proud,
for they have no room for it.
The strong and self-sufficient ones
don’t have this awareness.

But those who know their emptiness
can rejoice in Love’s fullness.
It’s the Love that we are made for,
the reason for our being.
It fills our inmost heart space

and brings to birth in us, the Holy One.

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