The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Dorothy Neilson
Sunday - 28 November 2021
Settle. Recentre. Breathe slowly. Feel God’s presence with you.
Can you believe it, ladies and gentlemen? This is the beginning of Advent! The time has flown past since last ‘locked down’ Christmas, when we were all hunkering down for more weeks of alone-ness, darkness, bad news and worry. And yet, we survived and here we are looking ahead to another Christmas and hoping for something much more relaxed and joyful.
But before we can even begin to think of a baby being born on Christmas Day, I suggest that we backtrack about 9 months because our baby, Jesus, was nine months in the womb just like the rest of us. And without looking at that part of the story, we miss out on so much.
The scene below is familiar to us. This is a representation of Mary’s family home where she was brought up. It is unlikely to be an accurate representation, in fact more a Medieval version of a room. But we know the scene.
The young Mary, sitting casually in her house reading a book. Leisure time. Time to herself. Probably enjoying being alone whilst living in a busy household. And suddenly the room is full of other-ness. The book, the tall lily, the table, the bench…… They remain the same. But the room is full of angel! Full of light, presence, hugeness, Godliness. And Mary remains, sitting on the floor, nose in her book and clearly saying something like, “Go away you big, scary angel!’ Leave me in peace!”
And the angel waited.
The Gospel of James suggests that Mary was in fact in the market place when the big, scary angel first appeared. She was horrified apparently (WELL wouldn’t YOU be?) and ran for home. But there the angel was persistent and reappeared later to tell her the amazing news that she had been chosen to be mother to the son of God.
Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:
to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power – in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –
but who was God.
by Denise Lavertov.
Wow! Wow! Wow! Mary, a wee lassie from Nazareth. What did SHE know of God, the immensity of his power, the hugeness of his purposes? How could she possibly get her head round what she was being asked to do? In retrospect, we can see the momentous importance of that moment. But Mary only knew she was being invited by God to do something special. And HOW special! Did she understand what she was agreeing to in that moment? I am guessing that she didn’t really. But she loved God. And that was all that was necessary. While the whole of Heaven and earth held its breath, Mary considered. And Mary said ‘Yes’.
The life of Mary shows that great things, important things, always begin with someone saying yes to God, and then moving along one yes at a time.”
Silent, surrendered, calm and still, open to the word of God.
Heart humbled to his will, offered is the servant of God.
Lord, we offer our lives to you. Give us courage to say yes to you in every little way so that we won’t miss out on the very special invitation you may have for us. Give us courage. Amen