Mary: Model Disciple

Today, August 15th, we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. Her title and veneration have been a source of contention and division among some Christian communities in the past. Our biblical texts provide not only a corrective to some abuses but open up deeper reasons for devotion and inspiration.
To start, much has been made of the physical connotation of the word “virgin.” In the Bible, the term simply meant a young maiden. Spiritually, virgin denotes purity of intention, total dedication.
Today’s Collect calls upon God who has “taken to yourself … the mother of your incarnate Son.” We remember the one who gave FLESH to the WORD of God.
Having worked in youth ministry for many years, my greatest peeve about Mary was that she was too often pictured as a matronly European madonna. The Christmas stories (“infancy narratives”) of Matthew and Luke clearly portray her as a mid-Eastern teenager-at-risk, saying YES (‘let it be”) in faith while facing public scandal, an unplanned pregna.
Finally, John’s gospel shows Mary faithfully following her Son right to the foot of the cross. With water and blood (Baptism & Eucharist) flowing from His side, a new community (Church) is formed: Mary and the beloved disciple are entrusted to each other’s care.
Mary’s sanctity is not so much in her physical maternity as in her being the Model Disciple — all that Jesus calls us to be: pure in heart, totally dedicated, fleshing out his living Word, responding with faith in moments of crisis and following Him to the Cross.

I will be on vacation next week.   The next issue of the The Vine will be on August 28th.

A Vine in West Pittston

Still aglow from my first Sunday at Trinity, I took to my patio early Monday for morning prayer with coffee in hand. I was struck by the lines from Psalm 80: “Restore, O God of hosts … You have brought a vine out of Egypt … your prepared the ground for it; it took root and filled the land.” I looked up and my eyes rested straight ahead on our latest garden addition: a pumpkin plant. It has taken time, but after months of daily care, there are vines, and yes budding pumpkins! Every morning we tend to it and weekly we note some growth.
Our work at Trinity is about restoration, but as we see in Scripture and history, ever restoration brings about something NEW.
How exciting to be a part of this with all of you: bringing back something familiar, from your roots and past, and creating something new!
There is a new vine budding forth in West Pittston.  Our community awaits this new life, the fruit of the Spirit, the ministry of Trinity Church. We, in Christ, are the vine.  Let’s together tend to this vine with our personal gifts and watch it grow within us and out to others!

The Vine, a good image of who we are in Christ and who we are called to be in mission, will be the title of my weekly message.