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The Virgin Mary’s Birthday (Sept. 8)

September 10, 2012

The Virgin Mary’s Birthday – Sept. 8

By Pastor Brian Daniels, Peoria Church

             As Protestants, we are often skittish about discussing the life of the Virgin Mary. We look at some things in the Orthodox Church and in the Roman Catholic Church and we think, “They worship Mary.” Consequently, we go to the other extreme and have little or nothing to do with her. This is too bad. There is much we can learn from Mary, much that can deepen our faith in Jesus Christ, whom she bore.

First, it is important to know that Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians do not worship Mary. They honor her, they show her very profound respect, but they do not worship her. But why do they honor her so highly?

They honor Mary so highly because of all the people on earth whom God could have chosen to bear His Son, Mary was the one chosen. Mary alone is the woman who bore God’s Son, in the flesh. Mary alone nursed the Infant Christ-child. Mary alone changed His diapers. Mary alone taught Him things of life as a little boy and young man. And even though Jesus Christ is God in the flesh – and knew everything that Mary was telling Him even in His infancy – as Mary’s Son, Jesus Christ submitted and obeyed her. “He humbled Himself…” (Phil. 2).

Secondly, by remembering the life of Mary, we bring ourselves close again to the realities of the spiritual life. All of the events of Jesus Christ’s life happened in real time, real places, real buildings, with real people. The Virgin Mary wasn’t just a character in a Christmas pageant – she was really, truly, Jesus Christ’s mother. She was not much different than any of the women who sit in the pews at Peoria Church every Sunday.

This is immeasurably important. It can be tempting to divorce the “spiritual” world from reality. We can say all the prayers that we want, but if our love for God doesn’t extend to real human beings – like Mary – then it is fruitless. We can read all the Bibles we want, but our faith must be in the real world, dealing with poor man and women – like Mary.

Thirdly, we remember that Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of God, had a family. We are all God’s children by adoption through Christ (Romans 8:15-17), but Jesus Christ had a human family that He grew up in. Mary had parents, Ss. Joachim and Anna, who would have been Jesus’ grandparents. Mary had a cousin, St. Elizabeth, who was the mother of Jesus’ cousin, St. John the Baptist. St. Joseph, Jesus’ step-father, had sons, Jesus’ step brothers.

Life in a family is where the rubber meets the road, isn’t it? Your family knows you “warts and all.” And they love you in spite of it. The fact that God had a family doesn’t mean that Mary and Joseph and the rest are any better than anyone else (like a ‘royal family’ might think they are). Instead, the fact God had a family demonstrates to us that life and love, family and relationships, are where real living takes place.

Yesterday, Sept. 8, is the traditional date for observing Mary’s birthday (Nativity of the Virgin Mary). By remembering that Mary had a birthday, we recall the reality of her life. And in that, we recall the full reality, that “God sent His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

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