Normally we would be off to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for the first weekend in May. Like last year, we won’t be able to male our annual pilgrimage this year. May will still be the month of Mary. I have just finished some collective worship for Ark St Alban’s Academy. One of the interesting things I noted was that Mary is mentioned more times in the Qu’ran than in the Bible. Another thing in noticed as I was preparing another collective worship video was that this year Eid and Ascension will probably fall on the same day.
The collective worship that I wrote about Mary used the story of the annunciation, and particularly Mary saying “yes” to God. We easily underestimate the bravery of Mary in that story. In Britain today we are used to unmarried mothers, but in Mary’s day life for an unmarried mother would have been very difficult. Mary had no guarantee that Joseph would agree to marry her under the circumstances.
When I was at university I remember a modern hymn “Where are you bound, Mary, Mary.” The lyrics were
Where are you bound, Mary, Mary?
Where are you bound, Mother of God?
Beauty is a dove sitting on a sunlit bough,
beauty is a pray'r without the need of words.
Words are more than sounds falling off and empty tongue:
let it be according to His word.
Mary heard the word spoken in her inmost heart;
Mary bore the Word and held Him in her arms.
Sorrow she has known, seeing Him upon the cross
- greater joy to see Him rise again.
Where are we all bound, carrying the Word of God?
Time and place are ours to make His glory know.
Mary bore Him first, we will tell the whole wide world;
let it be according to His word.
This might not be the sort of song that we sing at St Alban’s, but the words are profound in their simplicity. The first verse is about the annunciation but reminds us that our words should not fall off an empty tongue. Words are powerful and should be used wisely, not to hurt, undermine or diminish a person but to show love, compassion and build a person up.
The second verse reminds me a little of the Stabat Mater and speaks about how Mary held Jesus in her arms, and her suffering at seeing her child die. Yet the verse goes on to the glory of the resurrection.
The last verse tells us that here and now we have to bear Jesus in our hearts and proclaim Jesus and his kingdom to the world. We need to day Yes to God, just as Mary did.
Ascension and Pentecost also fall in May this year. It will be too difficult to have a full choral Mass on Ascension day itself and I suggest we celebrate the Thursday with a simple Mass but make more of the Sunday after Ascension.
I remember producing a very fiery video for Pentecost last year. This year we should be in church for Pentecost so less fiery video but let us hold then fire of the Holy Spirit in out hearts.
Looking to the future I hope that we can arrange a PPC meet with Abi and Damien from Parish Mission Support. They can help us think about how we can move forward, restoring and revitalising what we already do and plan to grow our church. Two parts one is analogous to our National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant, conserve, restoring and revealing out hidden treasures. We should also look at our newer initiatives like the family mass on Saturday and think about how this can grow.