3/25/12

The Annunciation to Mary

Since being moved by my bishop to a regular parish-church setting, I have had the great pleasure and privilige of planning for worship services each and every Sunday, and for this reason I've spent much more time working with The United Methodist Book of Worship (UMBOW), the official liturgy and worship book of our Church. This book, in addition to our full services for the Lord's Day, the Sacraments, and the major rites of the Church such as marriage and funeral, also contains numerous prayers, collects, and liturgies for use throughout the Christian year. Many of these prayers have roots in The Book of Common Prayer and other classical liturgical sources, while others are more recent.

In the Advent section, I discovered resources for two "Marian" feast days (focusing on Mary, the Mother of the Lord) traditionally celebrated by Anglicans, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics: The Annunciation to Mary, and the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. These feasts are not traditionally observed during Advent, but since that is when our lectionary and preaching is most likely to highlight the texts dealing with the Incarnation of the Word through Mary, that is where our worship book has them (UMBOW 256-257).

I have argued before that we Protestants, if we are serious about pursuing Christian unity with our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, need to find ways to highlight and celebrate the unique witness and work of the Virgin Mary, while remaining true to our own convictions that the Triune God alone is the proper object of worship and prayer and that Jesus is our only mediator with God and our only Savior. The editors and compilers of our United Methodist Book of Worship have done exactly that - prepared liturgical resources that celebrate the Biblical witness to St. Mary's role in God's plan of salvation, without going beyond what the Bible teaches.

Today, March 25, is traditionally celebrated as the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary (Luke chapter 1:26-38) because it is exactly 9 months before Christmas Day on December 25.

To commemorate the Annunciation our Book of Worship offers the following (UMBOW 256):

Suggested Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 40:1-11; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:26-38

Suggested hymns from The United Methodist Hymnal: 199, 198, 200, 215, 197

Prayer:

Holy God,
the mystery of your eternal Word took flesh among us in Jesus Christ.
At the message of an angel,
the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your will.
Filled with the light of your Spirit, she became the temple of your Word.
Strengthen us by the example of her humility,
that we may always be ready to do your will,
and welcome into our lives Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Nance said...

I thought Scot McKnight's accessible, little book, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, was very helpful on the topic of, well, embracing Mary. He goes through the role of Mary in the New Testament and stresses the need to affirm that our Lord's mother is "blessed among women"--as she prophesied in the Magnificat, "From now on all generations will call be blessed" (Luke 1:48).

10:01 AM, April 03, 2012  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

That is, I believe, the rationale for some Christians' (especially, I believe, Anglicans and Lutherans) use of "Blessed" as a standard title: "The Blessed Virgin Mary" sometimes abbreviated "BVM."
She is also a prophetess because of her words in Scripture, and we should, I would argue, call her "blessed" and explore what that means as well.

10:44 AM, April 04, 2012  

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