Speaking notes from today’s Stampede Service at Centennial Presbyterian Church, Spirit moments of note are these two quotes:
“God does not care what we say our rules are, He wants to talk to his kids all made equal and in His image”
“Mary, can very well be seen as an Indigenous person, and Romans as colonizers.”
Dancing the Circle:
The Strength of Love in her YES!
July 13, 2014 @ Centennial Presbyterian Church (10:30 a.m.)
In the Christianities of the world, the most venerated person, after Jesus of Nazareth, is his mum, Mary. It is amazing when you think about her, why would so many turn to her? Why this peasant girl is turned Mother of God so important? Could it be that through her time of being voiceless, through her faith she discovered her voice to declare a resounding “Yes” to God in her love, and because of this, it was not a patriarchal ladder she climbed for God to birth a kingdom bringer, but an all encompassing circle of family she danced.
For those who may have a Roman Catholic background, or even those of other’s faith, since the traditional belief of her assumption into heaven she has appeared worldwide in apparitions carrying the Gospel message of peace, love, hope, faith, and joy.
Mary has a powerful story. There is much out there about Mary one can Google, an e-book I wrote about her on sabbatical or look up, read, even meditations, prayers and services. But it is within the ancient stories we discover who this person is when set in the proper context.
She lived in a small town, in a nation that was under occupation by an Empire. Where the people were seen as nothing more than livestock, as a girl, until she could bear children she was seen as a burden on her family, for occupiers she was seen as nothing more than a sex toy if they chose. Once of child bearing age or even before her father would enter a business relationship with another man who wished to purchase the daughter on the hope that a) she could bear children, b) that child be a son. Other than that her role was to take care of the home, even when widowed and the elder son cared for her, it was still up to her to keep the home.
This was an agreement by and for men, that the child was expected to abide by. Once signed she was betrothed to this man, and any visitations or signs of impropriety with a male would end in her either a) being cast out of the city walls, or b) taken before the patriarchal religious authorities and stoned to death.
A world where the faith was passed down though at the apron hem of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers to all genders, until the boys became men at age 12, and at age 30 were expected to wed, move into the main house, and build on attachments to care for their parents and if need be, wives parents. Yet the germination of faith started from the women.
This is a child who never was asked what she thought, was only told what to do. We shall in a moment experience the time she found her voice.
But if you ever enter into the gospel stories of Mary, watch her, she is an amazing woman. Struggling with her own challenges and fears, she goes and helps her aged and pregnant cousin to deliver a prophet into the world even while her betrothed contemplates having her stoned to death or simply cast out to the sex trade workers outside the city walls for the transgression of carrying a child not his; she pushes her son to act out of love and hospitality at a wedding feast; she follows him as a world executes her child, not a prophet or a messiah to her, but her child…as they beat him, and lynch him. She watches it all, and she buries him. She holds his movement together by finding the right people to become leaders. This peasant girl from a town probably no bigger than Bassano, Alberta from a family lower than labour class as it is a labourer that purchases her to be a child bride. Yet it is the simplicity of her strength that shakes the world from its oppression, and that she continues to shine her light into the darkness of destruction, death, feminine, plague, hatred and war and shines brighter still to watch those answer the call of love into the Holy Mystery, and living that love out to transform their world. She constantly lives the circle metaphor that is family, a connection of all interwoven through the heart of Christ, what each of us is called to be.
We are going to take a moment to enter into that love ourselves this morning. It is a spiritual exercise from Ignatius of Loyola for studying sacred texts, whatever you find sacred texts or music to be. You hear or read it three times. Each time we rest with a question and seek an answer. This story is called “The Annunciation” it is the story of the Holy asking Mary to bear a child. Her yes, grew an ever expanding circle of love in this world that she birthed us with Jesus…this is the first step for us in discovering how we can also aid in birthing Jesus to our world. So…
Get comfortable in your seat. Close your eyes. Slow your breath, discovering your rhythm and becoming one with the environment around you. Let your mind cleanse itself, do not worry if a thought pops up, acknowledged it, and then place it aside until after. Feel the pew and this building melt away, feel the dust of the old world, the bustle of livestock, chattering of children working and playing, women talking, perhaps the clang of soldiers moving throughout the village. You are entering into the announcement; you are a thirteen year old peasant girl, who has just been bought by a 50ish year old man to bear his child.
As you prepare to hear the story for the first time, sit and listen, what words or phrases from your own life do you remember? How does this shape your understanding of Mary’s story?
Read Luke 1:26-39
As you prepare to hear the story a second time, what images are formed or memories surface in your mind as you hear these words? Let you sit with these images/memories and see how the Holy uses them.
For the third and final hearing, can you feel Mary’s anxiety or trepidation to say yes, when was there a time in your life that seizing your yes in love meant a harder road? Sit with that memory and know that, like Mary, you are transforming this world.
Slowly bring your breath back to normal, feel the pew beneath you, the dust melt off you, the sounds of the village vanish, the sounds of the city and this room greet you. Bring your breathing rhythmically up to its normal pace, open your eyes.
Welcome back Mary, how shall we dance God’s circle in this world, and let love reign?