john davies
notes from a small curate

    Mary - God's handmaid

    Holy Trinity (Shorter) Parish Communion 22/12/02


    Mary called herself God's servant, God's handmaid, a down-to-earth, useful role. There is a story about a school nativity play where Joseph introduced himself as the handyman of the Lord, which seems very appropriate given that he earned a living as a joiner.

    If we think about them in our terms, Joseph was a maintenance man, one who kept the buildings in good shape, and Mary was a housekeeper, or home-maker. ... and Gabriel was a messenger, perhaps like a child who brings us messages from the schoolyard, strange, unusual news.

    Mary kept house for God in another sense. She welcomed the Creator of earth and sea and sky as a new-created being, an embryo beginning to grow in the shelter of her body. She let God in to her home, her heart, her womb. She wondered at the angel's message, and kept it to herself, while she bore the disapproval of the neighbours and the distress of Joseph.

    She carried and cradled the growing child from Nazareth to Judaea, and back again; to the well, to the vegetable garden, to the market, about her daily work, until the couple set out for the census in Bethlehem. She refused to be ashamed, but she was filled with amazement, and she celebrated God's power and mercy 'from generation to generation'. Just as John danced before he was born, and Elizabeth cried out with joy, so Mary sang in her heart.

    She sang about liberation, and about a world turned upside down, about the rich sent away empty, and the poor and hungry filled with good things. She knew at first hand what this meant. Indeed, she came to realise that it was through her that these things had become true. Through her saying Œyesı to God, letting God come into her life, her home, her womb, the world was transformed.

    And ever since, Maryıs story and her song have given hope to the poor, the rejected, people on the margins. Not to mention housekeepers and handymen.

    (pilfered almost word-for-word from Brian Woodcock & Jan Sutch Pickard, Advent Readings From Iona, Dec 24 entry)