Preparing for Worship: Mary--Filled with Christ

Preparing for Worship: Mary--Filled with Christ

John Haralson   •   September 30, 2016

Our Lady of the Sign, from the Tretjakov Gallery in Moscow

"The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment."
―Elisabeth Elliot

Dear Friends,

Discipleship has many different facets to it. We have already seen this in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

A few weeks ago, we saw Zechariah having his sin lovingly, yet painfully exposed by God. To follow Jesus means that our sin and brokenness will, over time, be brought to the surface by a loving God that is liberating us from sin and death.

Last week, we saw Elizabeth’s experience of discipleship. God mercifully and graciously lifted the shame from her, allowing her to live in the world with her dignity and agency restored. To follow Jesus means that God is, over the course of our lives, delivering us from the debilitating and diabolical forces of shame.

This week, we turn our attention to Mary. Here, we see another aspect of disciples―to follow Jesus means to bear within ourselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ himself. 

Yes, it is true that Mary plays a unique and unrepeatable role in salvation history as the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. For that, she will always be, as Elisabeth tells her later, “blessed among women”. 

Yet, at the same time, Mary also serves as a paradigm for every Christian. 

In the Eastern Orthodox church, there is a long history of looking up to Mary as the Theotokos, or bearer of God. There is a very real sense in which every Christian is a Theotokos, a bearer of Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ not only dwells among us, but he dwells within us. It is with this reality in mind that Paul said the great mystery of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

Let me repeat this because it is vitally important:
    To be a Christian means that Christ himself dwells within you.

This is a word of great grace to know that God himself has taken up residence within our hearts. And, it is also a reality that calls for a response from us. Here again, Mary is our guide. When the angel tells her that Christ will take up residence in her body, she responds with faith and submission by saying most pointedly:

    Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; 
    let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

May her words become our words.

This Sunday: Mary―Filled with Christ, Luke 1:26-38; Colossians 1:24-29
 
Liturgy is here. I hope to worship with you.

John

PS - As the wise saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. This Sunday, we will be commissioning and praying for our Grace Kids teachers at both services.