"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My spirit rejoices in God, my savior."

Mary's song, Mary's response
to the gift of the Christ child
carried within her.

Mary's song, Mary's response
to sharing the joy of this news
with her cousin, Elizabeth.

Mary's song, Mary's response
to God's promise of steadfast love
given to her and to every generation.

Mary's song, Mary's response.
sung by the Western Church at every Vespers
sung by the Eastern Church at every Morning Prayer.

As the sun sets
and as the sun rises:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My spirit rejoices in God, my savior."

A natural song to sing
by one who will give birth to a holy child.
A joyful song to sing
as she, a proud mother,
witnesses her son healing others.

A perfect song to sing
as she encounters him reaching out
to outcasts and sinners.

A song she somehow sings,
even though
she will watch her son
be betrayed by one he loves.

A song she somehow sings
--astonishingly sings--
as she endures his persecution.

A song she somehow sings
through tears
at the foot of his cross.

The Scriptures tell us that when
the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary,
and told her
she would give birth and call the child Christ Jesus;
told her
she would bear God incarnate
to the world,
the Angel also said to Mary
"a sword will pierce your own soul, too."

To face the horror of the cross,
when the One who will be crucified,
is yet to be born,
and sing
--sing this Magnificat,
this song--
is remarkable.

I marvel at her voice.
Her voice of courage.
And confidence.
And enduring praise.

Just as I marvel
at the voices of others mothers.
Who have suffered
the same wrenching pain
of loss of their own,
beloved sons and daughters;
whose souls have been pierced,
or as one of them (Gloria Darden)
put it,
"I got a hole in my heart":
Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin
Lesley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown
Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner
Samaria Rice, Mother of Tamir Rice
Judy Scott, Mother of Walter Scott
Gloria Darden, Mother of Freddie Gray
Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland
Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God
is how we know God joins their crying.
Joins their voices of love, lamenting:
"I have a baby to put in the ground.
She wasn't my convict, she wasn't my suspect
--she was my baby" (Geneva Reed-Veal).

Mary, Mother of God,
who weeps at the foot of the cross,
is how we know that God, through tears,
looks death square in the face and says, "No."
Looks violence in the face and says, "No."
Prejudice, "No."
False accusations, "No."
Torture and neglect, "No."
Hatred, "No."

For on the cross, God in Christ Jesus.
speaks a final and definitive "No"
to death.
Speaks a final and definitive "No"
to all death's ways.

And in the silence--
silence which has gone on far too long,
and has been filled with far too much chatter--
in the silence that follows,
breaks forth God's "yes."

God's "Yes,"
breaking through the silence
with the cry of a newborn babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes.

God's "Yes"
breaking through the silence
with songs of the poor being raised up.

God's "Yes"
breaking through the silence.
with the hungry filled.

God's "Yes"
breaking through the silence.
with Mary's song,
with all these mothers' songs:
"something occurred that is going to change the
world"
(Geneva Reed-Veal).
For Mary's song, Mary's response;
these's mothers' songs, their response;
our song, our response
to death and destruction in our world
is God's own song:

God's promise
to break down walls
and build bridges.

God's promise.
to tear down barriers that divide us
and cultivate community that unites us.

God's promise
to bind up the broken-hearted.
and to bring healing.

God's promise, which gives Mary cause to hope.
God's promise, which gives these mothers cause to hope.
God's promise, which gives us cause to hope.
God's promise, which gives humanity cause to hope.

So, dear friends,
in the face of so much hatred,
and injustice in our world
dare to sing Mary's song.

In the face of prejudice.
Sing Mary's song.

In the face of so much loss.
Sing Mary's song.

In the face of shattered lives.
Sing Mary's song.

Sing.
And chant.
And march.

Join your voice in prayer.
with Mary, Mother of God.
with the Mothers of all those Beloved by God,
who insist
then, now, and in every generation;
insist, with courage and with confidence:
the world is about to turn.

Jared R. Stahler
Saint Peter's Church
In the City of New York
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Jazz Vespers
Liturgy for Healing

Isaiah 61:7-11
Psalm 34:1-9
Saint Luke 1:46-55