Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent 3 She Walked in the Summer

Solo: Oliver Dingwell

1          She walked in the summer through the heat on the hill.

            She hurried as one who went with a will.

            She danced in the sunlight when the day was done.

            Her heart knew no evening who carried the sun.

(She Walked in the Summer, #12 Voices United, Miriam Therese Winter)


The incarnation of God is messy business. You never guess it based on the serene images of Mary so meek and mild in her flowing blue gowns and golden halos. For centuries in art Mary has been depicted as a model of perfection.  How can God entering the world be neat and easy? How can the person charged with bearing God into the world be meek and mild? It reminds me of all the books for new mothers that show mothers gentle cradling their babies on the cover. They don’t depict how you manage sleep deprivation or troubles with nursing or crying babies. That might us scare too much to become a parents. The poet Killian McDonnell imagines Mary’s story this way in his poem called In the Kitchen:

            Bellini had it wrong.

            I was not kneeling

on my satin cushion

silently at prayer

head slightly bent.


Painters always

skew the scene,

as if my life

were wrapped in silks,

and temple smells.


Actually I had just

come back from the well,

placing the picture on the table

I bumped the edge

spilling water on the floor.


As I bent to wipe

it up, there was a light

against the kitchen wall

as though someone had opened

the door to the sun.


Rag in hand

hair across my face,

I turned to see who was entering,

unannounced, unasked. 


All I saw

was light, white

against the timbers.

I heard a voice

I had never heard.

I heard a greeting,

I was elected,

the Lord was with me,

I pushed my hair back,

I stood afraid.

Someone closed the door.

And I dropped my rag.

(Killian McDonnel, Swift Lord You are Not page 46 – 47)


Solo: Oliver


2          Fresh as a flower at the first ray of dawn,

            she came to her cousin whose morning was gone.

            There leaped a little child in the ancient womb,

            and there leaped a little hope in every ancient tomb.

(She Walked in the Summer, #12 Voices United, Miriam Therese Winter)


The incarnation of God is messy business. Maybe Mary was in the kitchen going about her daily routines. We will never know. Here is what we do know. Mary was young – 13 or 14. The weighty theological term for Mary is “Theotokos.” Which quit literally means God bearer. Because Mary said yes to God and she bore God’s son into the world. This is how the bible describes it: An angel of the Lord appeared to her. Not in a dream. Not in her imagination. But in person and says, “Greetings, favoured one. The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) Now I don’t know about any of you. But I think that I’d be shaking. This is unexpected and confusing and probably scary. To reassure Mary, the angel says, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30)


Then the angel tells Mary that she has a special calling. Unmarried, young and she was going to conceive a baby by the Holy Spirit.  “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” (Luke 1: 31 – 32) Many people would have run away because it is such an unbelievable story. I sometimes wonder how many people turned down this offer from the angel. It was Mary who had the courage to say yes, to say, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord: let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)


Solo: Oliver

3          Hail, little sister, who heralds the spring.

            Hail, brave mother, of whom prophets sing.

            Hail to the moment beneath your breast.

            May all generations call you blessed.

(She Walked in the Summer, #12 Voices United, Miriam Therese Winter)


The incarnation of God is messy business and that’s good news for us. God enters the world with all its messiness, with all its imperfection, with all its failings and offers us a gift like no other – God own self wrapped up in human form. When God’s love comes in the world, it takes courage and faith to follow and to trust that love. There is nothing meek or mild about Mary. Bellini may have had it wrong but David Wynne got it right with his statue at Ely Cathedral. Mary still in blue but this time a vibrant blue. There is no golden halo. She stands with her arms stretch upwards and open to God – standing strong for whatever comes next. Ready to ponder the meaning of her son’s birth. Ready for the day Jesus disappears and heads for the temple. When Mary finally finds him, he says, “Well duh, Mom where did you think I’d be?” Ready for the worst of day of all as Jesus hangs on the cross. Ready to be overwhelmed by the joy of his rising.


The good news for us is that God is here with us in our best moments and in our worst moments giving us courage for what lies ahead. As we prepare once again for Jesus’ birth, pause to give thanks for those who made it possible. For Joseph who walked with Mary. For the shepherds who dared to leave their flocks to see what the angels were talking about. For the Magi who travelled from a far off country, who were brave enough to ignore Herod’s command to return to him and instead go home by another way. And for Mary, for her faith and courage as she bravely said, “Here I am. The servant of the Lord: let it be with me according to you word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary Theotokos. God bearer. Mary brings us a saviour, Emmanuel. God with us.


Solo: Oliver

4          When you walk in the summer through the heat on the hill,

            when you're wound with the wind and one with Her will,

            be brave with the burden you are blessed to bear,

            for it's Christ that you carry everywhere,

                        everywhere, everywhere.

(She Walked in the Summer, #12 Voices United, Miriam Therese Winter)

No comments:

Post a Comment