We start our return from the holidays with an important birthday. On the 8th September the Church celebrates the birthday of the Mother of Jesus, Mary. As she is the patron saint of our parish church we like to celebrate this occasion with a party on the nearest Sunday (this year 10th Sept). With an 11am Eucharist followed by a BBQ and music from Redbourn Jazz Band, we hope that there is more than enough to suit all tastes, and that you will accept our invitation to come and join the party. Whether you come to church each week or have a love of jazz you are all very welcome.
Yet I can understand how it can seem contradictory to celebrate the birth of the one who would bring Jesus Christ into the world, a moment of God’s presence with us, when we look out in the world and far too often see that God seems absent. ‘Patience with God: the Story of Zacchaeus continuing in us’ by the Czech theologian – priest Tomas Halik raises this very question too. Rather than believing that this absence is evidence that there is no God, and instead of coming up with an over-simplistic ‘solution’, he suggests that we need to be more patient in confronting the mystery of God.
A key character of Mary is patience. We see this time and time again throughout her life, as she witnessed and was at times central to, God acting in the world in a new way. She does not try to fully understand every detail before she says yes to God, perhaps she knows she cannot. Instead she ponders what she says in her heart: she is patient.
There are lots of things in the world that we do not understand. Something things we might say we just don’t know, others that they are a mystery. As Christians, we believe that it is not possible for us to know everything about God: God is by nature a mystery. Instead, we must learn to live with mystery; something that cannot be overcome or solved. Like Mary, we must ponder these things on our hearts and learn to be patient with God. This patience is not passive or silent, but attentive, open minded, outward looking and collaborative. As we know from Mary, it is also life changing. I think the Church has a lot of learn here.
Perhaps, whatever labels we might give ourselves in terms of our religious affiliation, we could try to embrace this feeling of uncertainty and mystery and follow Mary’s example and ponder these things, the good and the bad, in our hearts. Then perhaps together we could say yes like Mary and change the world for the better, together.