St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Monday, August 15, 2022
This week in our country
Mary the mother of Jesus
The Collect for Sunday
Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The fallout from the FBI “raid” on Donald Trump’s home last week will not be known for some time. We do know that 11 sensitive sets of documents were removed, some of them particularly so. We may not ever know who informed the FBI that his material was still being held by the ex-president. None of them, however, were the personal property of the president. None of them should have been removed. That is indisputable, whether he thinks he had “declassified” some of them or not. What we do know is that one of his followers, furious about this action against the former president, tweeted that it was time for war, tried to break into an FBI branch last week, and was finally killed when he fled and refused to negotiate. The number of threats against FBI agents, judges, and political figures have increased dramatically in the last weeks, especially within the last few days. There is reason for anxiety about the future of our nation, how and whether we will hold together.
But what should the Church be doing right now both to reinforce our commitment to peace, and our willingness to be blamed as unpatriotic for standing for truth and justice against lies and conspiracies? The readings over the last couple of weeks seem awfully relevant right now. There are “prophets” who are dreaming dreams, as Jeremiah wrote when he faced a similar situation – and there are those – like Jeremiah himself who tried to warn the people of God that God’s word is not easy to hear. Pray for everybody involved – for the former president, for the justice system employees, for judges, the FBI agents, for whoever it was who revealed the location of those documents. Pray for investigators, for journalists, for those who are inclined to violence, for congressmen and senators, and for the current president of the United States. And as you work to separate truth from falsehood, try to be gentle with those who seem caught up in any web of fear and lies. But try also to be fearless, even if it puts you on the wrong side of some of your friends or family. We can suffer that rejection without being hard, or retaliating or giving up on them. We can love. As I saw last Thursday on the Bolivar Public School page, there are many within our community who believe even the most outrageous things about our public schools, and who struggle to let go of their certainty that terrible (or ridiculous) things are happening there. Pray for them, and for the teacher and administrators who have to try to squelch those rumors.
The feast day of Mary, the mother of Jesus
Today the church remembers Mary, the mother of Jesus, the mother of God-in-the-flesh. Why does she matter to us? Well, partly because of her song – reminiscent of Hannah’s in the Old Testament. God does impossible things for both women – and they sing, as Miriam did later – about the greatness of God, and what God does for the ones who have no other helper: women, the poor, the week, the needy. And they sing because that God who holds the world in his hands, has also done great things for them. And in them. And through them. God is God of those who accept their littleness before the greatness of God. And who rejoice in it! And why does the Catholic Church especially remember her as mother of God? Not, as you might imagine, because they think she is so special (although they do), but because her son is. In Christian theology, Jesus is one with the Father – He is the son of God – but also the son of Mary. It’s easy to remember that he is fully human – Mary’s child grown up. But he is also one with God – and the human mother is also the mother of the God-man. The phrase, “mother of God, “is about that. It emphasizes the unity of Jesus with the Father and the Spirit. It is about who Jesus is. Mary’s song has encouraged and motivated many Christians in our world – including Jonathon Myrick Daniels, whose feast day was yesterday – You may remember from last year that he was a young, white Episcopal seminarian who participated n the voter registration efforts in the south during the Civil Rights movement. He was murdered and others in the group were shot by a racist store keeper. As often happens, he is now remembered with honor and joy – the shopkeeper is forgotten. Be careful right now which side you’re on. History will remember.