Friday 7 August 2015

The Fast of the Virgin Mary - I

Each of the seasons of fasting in the Church has a purpose. We are invited to reflect and to act for our salvation as we consider and imitate those who have experienced the life in Christ before us. Most recently we kept the fast and the feast of the Apostles, seeking to prepare ourselves by spiritual effort for our own share in the mission of the Church to the world. Today, as we begin the fast of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, we seek to benefit from an extended period of prayerful concentration on her life and experience.

I want to post a series of reflections on the Virgin Mary as we find her in the Scriptures. She is the example above all of the Christian life lived to the full. Each time we see her in the Scriptures we learn a little more about how we also are called to live.

The first passage I would like us to consider is the occasion of the Angel appearing to her to announce the incarnation. She uttered those words which should be the foundation of our own experience of life in Christ...Behold, the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.

The incarnation had not taken place until she spoke these words, giving her humble and obedient consent to the will of God being worked out in her life. It was possible that she might have rejected this purpose of God for her, this greatest of all possible service that a creature could offer to the Creator.

The Angel also appears to us. Often in our lives we will hear the word of God come to us, inviting us to take part in service to God and to others. We also have a choice. It is possible for us to resist and reject the will of God. We may read the Scriptures and be struck by some instruction, as many of the great saints were. We have the freedom to reject such a word. We may hear a challenging sermon, or be asked by someone to help in some service. We have the freedom to reject such a request.

But if we would be Christians, if we want to experience life with Christ, Emmanuel, God within us, then we must answer as the Virgin Mary did, from the very depths of our heart and being.

Behold, the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.

This is the very purpose of human life. It was in a falling away from this purpose that Adam and Eve led all of humanity into ruin. But the Virgin Mary, as a Second Eve, responds in words which we must make our own each day, whatever the circumstances we face. She did not know how God's purposes would be worked out. But she was confident that in giving herself over in obedience to the will of God she would be blessed.

In this season of the Fast of the Virgin Mary may we all offer ourselves to the will of God in such a manner, for our salvation, making her words our own.

At the moment I am waiting patiently to see what will be determined for me by the Church. The same response is demanded of me, as of us all. Behold the servant of the Lord. But I am confident that God means all of my circumstances for blessing. Please pray that the will of God will be made known and that I can serve again as Our Lord wishes in such obedience as the Virgin Mary displayed. There are others also, those I have been caring for, and some I have led into our Orthodox Faith over the last months and years, who are also waiting patiently with me for the will of God to be revealed.

I'm without financial support at the moment, except from a few dear friends. My household bills have not, unfortunately, gone away. Indeed they are mounting up and cannot be paid at present. So I am waiting, trusting in the Lord for his provision by your prayers. Please continue to pray for me and with me. I always need your prayers in every situation.

If you are able, and moved, to provide some support at this rather testing time, then your financial support is most gratefully received as if from God himself.

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