Hubert & Jan van Eyck,, 1432
Mary, Mother of our Lord
In our foundational liturgical document, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, there are five Marian feasts. In the 1995 A Prayer Book for Australia, the Feast of Mary the Mother of Our Lord was re-established (15 August). This is the Anglican name for the Roman Catholic Feast of the ‘Assumption of Mary’ and the Orthodox Feast of the ‘Falling Asleep of Mary’.
Sadly, differing understandings of the place of Mary in God’s act of redemption have been a cause of division.
In 2004 the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) issued An Agreed Statement entitled Mary Grace and Hope in Christ. The ARCIC document states, “Mary is marked out from the beginning as the one chosen, called, and graced by God through the Holy Spirit for the task that lay ahead of her”, and that, at the Annunciation, “the word of God delivered by Gabriel addresses her as already ‘graced’” (para. 54). The authors point out that the Greek perfect participle kecharitomene means “one who has been and remains endowed with grace”.
Similarly, Mary’s place in heaven is to be regarded as an anticipation of our destiny, and that “Christians from East and West through the generations have discerned in faith that it is fitting that the Lord gathered her wholly to himself in Christ” (para.57). Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, once asked: “If she is not in heaven where then is she?”
Mary is important for us as Anglicans.
First, because she is the Mother of the Lord. The oldest title applied to her by the Church is Theotokos, a Greek term that means ‘God bearer’ or ‘Mother of God’.
Secondly, because she is the example for all followers of Jesus. At the Annunciation, Mary responded to God’s invitation to be mother of the Lord. She said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be it unto me according to your word” (Luke 1.38). Sometimes our iconography is unhelpful, and we can get the idea that her obedience to God’s will was easy. But I do not think that this was the case, and she who delighted in the baby of Bethlehem stood at the foot of his cross on Calvary.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians pray ‘to’ Mary (i.e. ‘invocate’). Anglican tend to pray ‘with’ her (i.e. ‘comprecate’). With her, we pray that we may bring birth to God’s word in the world.
Sunday at 6pm
Our service of Evensong from the 1662 Book of Common prayer is this Sunday evening at 6pm.
Prelude: II. Andante from Sonata Op. 79 – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Hymns: Processional Sing we of the blessèd Mother – NEH 185 v1,4
Dismissal Tell out, my soul TiS 161
Psalm: 72; Mallis
Canticles: Evening Service in C minor – George Dyson (1883-1964)
Anthem: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude: III. Vivace from Sonata Op. 79 – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Recently we had our photographer, Howard Aitken of Howardshoots, took our annual choir photo and others during the 10am service. Here is a selection.