Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mary and the Preordained

Anna after the birth of Mary: That kid might be without sin, but she's not without size.  Phew. 

Today (Sept 8th) was the feast of the birth of Mary.  For most of us, birthdays and anniversaries are the two really big personal landmarks.  But in the grand scheme of Marian feasts Mary's birth actually ranks pretty low.  You've got the Immaculate Conception, the conception of Jesus, the Assumption... hard to top those.

And even the readings for the day sort of indicate that.  Instead of a scripture reading from the life of Mary, on this feast day we get the reading from Matthew in which the angel tries to convince Joseph to stay with Mary.   Mary's talked about, but she's not even in the scene.  The only person for us to identify with is Joseph; makes you wonder, did the makers of the lectionary have this thought that on this feast, we'd all be asking what exactly are we doing here? Why specifically are we celebrating this? And they provide the conversation with Joseph to remind us of the big picture. 

The feast of Mary's birth is an occasion on which the readings in general are all about predestination.  God's got this plan and everything fits into it. It's one long chain of dominoes.   

And maybe that made sense just as is back in the day.  But these days, lean too heavily on the domino theory and you're going to have trouble.  It's hard to see God planning hurricanes.  Or heart attacks, for that matter.   

But beneath this idea of predestination is the concept that God is so interested in us that he has prepared all the worlds we will enter in our lives for us.  He is the good host, or the wedding planner, setting everything up before we get there for us, and then walking with us once we arrive, every step of the way.  

It might be a comfort to recall that God loves us in such a particular and thorough way.  And maybe it also reminds us that the worlds we find ourselves in, no matter how awful they are, have also been in some ways provided for us.  Not that God plans our suffering, but that he's there with us in it.  Or maybe like a good mystery, that he's planted some little treasures even in its horrible midst.  

The band OK Go has a great music video for its song "This Too Shall Pass" that features a super-extensive Rube Goldberg machine (which is like dominos on steroids).  It's amazing.  And it seemed somehow appropriate for today -- could Anna & Joachim have had any idea that the birth of their daughter would lead to you and me? 

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