ONE HAS TO WONDER – as Advent approaches – what the Church of England might advise the young Galilean girl Mary – were she able to “Tweet” them in advance of the imminent birth of a “Saviour of the World” in our day. I’m not sure that much of the advice offered her would be very complimentary. And there’d probably be a lot of bad temper about not being able to get a Synod gathering arranged in time. Women have not been widely expected to have much of a role in saving the world – not expected to be bishops, or mothers of redeemers (though we all know women who are and have been both). “It’s just not traditional.”
TOSH! – says Gabriel the Messenger. HUSH! – says Raphael the Healer, that’s outrageous! LISTEN to yourselves! – says Michael the Defender. HARK at you CofE – sing herald angels. WHAT (in God’s Name) is the Church of England on about? – says at least half the population.
WOMEN like Mary bring Life to birth every day says Gabriel. WOMEN like Mary breathe Wisdom into family and community says Raphael. WOMEN like Mary challenge poverty and human greed and pride not by waging warfare but by Grace and humility says Michael. WOMEN like Mary, like women everywhere, bring about the real possibility of a saved world by the daily offering of sacrificial “Fiat” – by the daily offering of “Yes” to Life – their own and that of others.
What is a “Saviour of the World” anyway? We know it was a title accorded Roman emperors, Caesar amongst them. But beyond that did Jesus of Nazareth give us any clue?
Son of God? Ah, but it’s not me who says that. It’s you. Don’t call me Lord, Lord. I’m Son of Man. One of you. That’s the point here. What I do you could do too. Living Life fully’s a job for both me and you.
Mary and the Baby Jesus wouldn’t make for very savoury companions in the midst of a contemporary English Christmas celebration would they? They’d pose a bit of a challenge to Father’s presiding over Midnight Mass (“let’s hope the Vicar’s got the heating turned up!”) – or another father’s benign beam whilst mother slaves away in shops or kitchen, and children tear away, on this and many-another-special-day, at expensive wrapping paper. Not that either Mary or the baby would need to say much. Truth to tell their simple presence would be enough of a challenge to almost all the assumptions we make about bishops and priests, and churches and saviours, and growth action plans and finances and insurance.
Odd that we should be celebrating them then, isn’t it? A young girl and an apparently illegitimate baby, glowing with Life, the life of God in them – and saving the world by simply being. Saving the world by quietly standing in the midst of earthly power’s worst excesses and fantasies. “Lighting up Bramhall” not by Christmas Shopping but simply by Christmas Being. And such shall be called “Emmanuel”. God with us.
Emmanuel? Who? – the girl or the baby? Oh, both, I think. Both. You can’t have One without the Other.
Hush the noise “Christians” – and hear the Real messengers sing.
With my love. Especially at this time for Maggi – and other overseers like her x