In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 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 the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:26-33
Yesterday was our last day in Sitka for a while. We spent the afternoon sight-seeing and visiting with the bears in the rescue center. I took a short nap and over-slept, being late for the 5:30 service. I was embarrassed and thought folks might think badly of me, but in the loving community, they sang and prayed and made room when I arrived, not harboring ill feelings but instead restoring me and be gentle with our shared humanity. No greater gift can we give each other, than when we can see with the eyes of love and feel compassion like the heart of God.
Today is the feast day of the parents of the Mother of God. The Scriptures tell us nothing about the parents of the Virgin Mother, not even their names. An early but unreliable document, known as the Proto-Gospel of James, calls them Ann and Joachim, by which names they are customarily known. Our only real information about them, however, is an inference from the kind of daughter they reared. The gift of loving, faithful parents cannot be underestimated. Another set of parents may have shunned their daughter and turned away from her off-spring. They might have killed her, which would have been their right within the law. But they had faith beyond the law, they were imprinted with the law of love, straight from the heart of God, and no amount of negative publicity would destroy that love in them.
Today, as we travel home, I pray that we can carry the law of love stamped upon us, and live as people who are forgiven and embraced in our full humanity. May we be full of God's grace, following the example of the parents of Mary, that we might embrace and encourage God's activity in all of our lives. May we not be felled by mean words, or cruel judgements, but rather carry on in their spirit, filled with love from the heart of God.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.