You are invited to take a deeper look at the lessons from the liturgy of the day, on Sundays and Holy Days in Lent. Clergy and lay leaders have prepared this resource especially for you as a gift from the Center for Spirituality at Christ Church. The brief reflections include links to the readings for the day, and questions for you to prayerfully consider.
This is a passage used in the Gospel of Matthew and in the tradition of the church to say that Jesus was born of a young woman who was a virgin and that his conception came from the miraculous intervention of God. This core teaching has shaped the church’s belief that God became human in Jesus so that he was and is fully human and fully divine. Jewish tradition and modern biblical scholarship disagree with this interpretation. How do you consider these different points of view in developing your personal faith? What do we gain from the church’s traditional view that Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary”? I.e., how does that teaching shape how we understand being human and how we practice our faith in Jesus? How can Jewish belief and modern biblical scholarship raise important questions for us to consider without necessarily losing our Christian faith?
This passage from Luke is known as the Magnificat or the Song of Mary. It is based on the Song of Hannah from I Samuel 2:1-10. It extols God for God’s grace toward those in need and also for God’s way of setting things right between those who have so much and those who have so little in material and political terms. As we read the rest of Luke, we can see Mary’s influence on the ministry of Jesus and his care for those in need. As you read and reflect on this passage, how do you feel? With whom do you identify? How could the emotions that are stirred in us help to guide the rest of our journey through Lent and beyond?
The Feast of the Annunciation has layers of meaning for us as people of faith. At least one layer is that through Mary, Jesus received a human body and soul. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus’ human body was offered as a sacrifice according to the will of God. The fullness of Jesus’ life and teaching, death and resurrection, would replace the former sacrificial system as the way to connect humans to God. What was gained for us through this sacrifice? What continues to strengthen us through it?
Can you imagine being Mary? How about Joseph? Or Mary’s parents? What would be the challenges to your faith? How would your faith be strengthened? Mary’s first question was “How can this be?” since she was a virgin. What other questions might you have had if you were her? Despite her questions, Mary’s “Yes,” was critical for God’s plan of salvation for all people. How can we carry the faith of Mary with us through the rest of Lent and on to Easter?