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Relating To Mary

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Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Lenten King. Amen.

Me: Where do I relate to Mary

It’s hard to gauge how I relate to Mary. It’s almost as if there is nothing in common. She’s the mother of our Lord. She’s a mother. She’s a woman. Quite a few differences. Growing up Mary was taught to be the Mother of Our Lord. I pictured her as a young teenager who has this experience with Gabriel, and then becomes the Mother of our Lord. She was never overemphasized. Yet, growing up in a Christian home, growing up attending a Lutheran School and Church, I came to appreciate Mary. Mary was never someone that I saw as being divine, always as a humble servant.
Mary though to others, such as my dear Catholic friends, and even a former girlfriend who was Catholic had other ideas. I do remember in my Catholic friends yards growing up there was always the statue of Mary in the bathtub somewhere in the yard. We would have discussions, especially as we grew to up who Mary was and what her identity was. Was she a perpetual virgin? Was she perfect? Was she immortal? or was she just a humble servant of the Lord? And yes, as I have looked at Mary this week, of all times during Lent…this is actually the second of two sermons I wrote on Mary not knowing which one I would actually preach, Mary has challenged me to look away from myself, and look to the humble call of servanthood that we all have.

We: Where Trinity and St. Paul is, relating to Mary.

Now how do you relate to Mary? What are your experiences with her. You all come from various backgrounds. Some of you were born, baptized, confirmed, married, and will be buried as a Lutheran. Others of you are former Catholics and other denominations. While others of you may have no real connection to Mary. Let’s take a look at a couple of these areas:
Perhaps you are a person who grew up in a family that was suspicious of Roman Catholicism. Perhaps you remember either your mom, dad, or one of your grandparents or uncles telling you that the statue of Mary that they have in their homes or on their lawns and in their churches is pure idolatry. You know they worship her. There might have even been some suspicion or even anger or resentment if any favorable view of Mary was actually taken as sinful.
Then maybe you are the person who grew up Catholic or had close Catholic friends or might even have a hard time truly grasping everything that the Lutheran Church believes, teaches, and confesses. As one of those you might say that you never would worship Mary, since even the first commandment tells us, Worship the Lord your God only. Yet, you might say that you draw comfort from the thought of Mary’s prayers interceding for you with an angry and judgmental Jesus. Maybe you even feel a sense of loss because in our church we don’t pray to Mary or even feel a connection to the saints, especially to Mary, the mother of God.
Or maybe you are the person who has never truly thought much about Mary. You have seen her like a statuette on the neighbor’s lawn like I did. Maybe you never truly considered what that meant. Maybe you are one that knows only a “Hail Mary” to be a desperate football pass to win a game, who has never time to consider Mary as yes, a person of faith.
Maybe you fall into one of those categories or maybe you are somewhere in between, but now let’s take a look at what God says about Mary.

God: What God’s Word says about Mary.

God’s Word says much about Mary throughout the New Testament. Even in the Old Testament it says that a virgin will conceive and give birth to the Messiah. In the New Testament though we see her in many places.
In , Mary is honored because she submits to God’s plan. Remember this account, Mary, a lowly handmaiden, a young teenager, has a visit from Gabriel who tells her that she is going to be the mother of the Lord, and through the conversation with the Angel and hearing that the Holy Spirit will come upon her, and the child will be called Holy - the Son of God, Mary submits her identity, her whole self and tells the angel, tells God, “Let it be to me according to your Word.”
In and , Mary doesn’t always understand her son, but she does trust Jesus. You see, Jesus at times sometimes responds to Mary in ways that are confusing or ambiguous. Such as at the Wedding of Cana when Jesus responds to Mary’s comment of no more wine: “Woman, (not mother) what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come?” So she trusts that Jesus knows what he is talking about and can tell the servants listen to him and do what he says. Then there is that whole conversation in when Jesus is told, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And Jesus said to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers…Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” And yes, Mary did according to God’s Word and is Jesus’ mother.
Mary stays with Jesus, even in the face of suffering and death. Mary is standing at the foot of the cross looking up at her son, as he hangs there suffering and dying. There I am sure she is thinking back to 30 plus years ago when Simeon told Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of Many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thought from many hearts may be revealed.” Mary is experiencing that piercing sword through her soul as she stand there at the foot of the cross with Jesus looking down at her. She’s going through the heartache of a mother seeing her son not only violently executed, but jeered at and spit on and made fun of in the midst of his suffering. But Mary doesn’t leave his side. And There Jesus provides for His mother whom he loves, with a new son, a new family, as he looks down in love.

You: God’s Word working in the life of the individual

When it comes to Mary, if you haven’t paid attention to her before or just have glanced over her and her story throughout Scripture…even when we put focus on her during Advent and Christmas, but never really consider her during Lent or at other times. When you stop and take Mary into consideration, she is a person of faith. You can gain new insight in what it means to be an all-in follower of Jesus. Mary points us to submitting your whole life to God’s plan. After all, she said, “I am a humble servant, Let it be to me according to your word.” That’s huge!
And if you have been taught to honor, almost to an extreme, the Mother of God, you can set aside the Queen of Heaven image for a humble peasant girl who grew into understanding over time of what it meant to be the Mother of our Lord. Mary points us to faith that beings humbly and grows. And for many of us our faith did begin that way, humbly with water sprinkled over our heads and was combined with God’s Word, and from that time forward our faith has grown.
And now if you secretly shudder at the thought of calling Mary, the Mother of God, you can set aside your disdain for a deeper appreciation of the wonder of the incarnation for it is seen here, at the foot of the cross. Mary, the mother of God, points to her fully human son, who himself loved and honored this woman of faith.
Mary the mother of God, points to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
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