From the Rector: the Assumption of Mary

The May Crowning

The May Crowning

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a celebration that dates back to at least the fourth century in Jerusalem. We know that this feast was part of the Armenian calendar of Jerusalem, and that they called the day Mary Theotokos, or Mary the God-bearer. One of the realities of the early church is that Marian devotion, as well as devotion to the martyrs, was a central facet of Christian life. Perhaps one of the manifestations of a persecuted church is a closer relationship to those who have gone before us. When beloved friends died for the faith, their lives would live on in the earthly church. Their lives were offerings to God, and the faithful would choose to honor them.

Mary was not martyred, but she certainly was and is a witness for all of us. Take a moment and put yourself into Mary's shoes. Imagine being told that you were to bear Jesus Christ in your very body. Imagine having a child called the Son of Man and the Son of God. Imagine watching your son die on the cross, only to rise from the dead. This is more than most parents could bear. Mary, by God's grace, seems to be especially blessed for this vocation. She even manages to gather the early church at the first Pentecost so that they might receive the same Spirit for which she has been so blessed. Mary is remarkable in her ability to be the Theotokos; she is remarkable in her willingness to devote her life to Jesus Christ.

The tradition of the church is that Mary was "taken up" into heaven to be with her beloved Son. She shows us how to be super faithful, and through her we see the riches that Jesus Christ yearns to bestow upon all of us. I have always regarded August 15 to be a feast of the resurrection. Whereas on Easter Day we celebrate our Lord's rising from the dead, on August 15 we see how the same rising is open to all who seek to say "yes" to God, just as Mary so willingly said "yes" to God.

I hope you can join us for the special Evensong this Sunday with our bishop. This will be our major celebration of the great feast of Mary Theotokos. The offering at evensong is for the relief work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in Gaza.

Father Paul Lillie+