Sunday Prayers – August 15th – St. Mary the Virgin

Our Sunday Prayers service will be live-streamed to YouTube on August 15th, and you’ll be able to join in live or later at your convenience. After some music to help us prepare, the service will begin at 9:30 am. The link to this Sunday’s service is here.

Here’s a link to the order of service, to help you join in with the prayers.

This Sunday is a Holy Day–one of a very small number that take precedence over a Sunday. The name varies among the different expressions of Christianity; we keep the Holy Day of St. Mary the Virgin. Our Lutheran siblings style it Mary, Mother of Our Lord, while our Roman Catholic siblings name it The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Orthodox siblings call it the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God–which is closest to what we Anglicans called it in the Book of Common Prayer: The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

You might wonder there are so many different names for a day we all celebrate. Did you notice, too, all the different ways of referring to Mary? St. Mary the Virgin, Mary the Mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the theotokos (God-bearer), … and that’s just the top of the list!

We honour Mary who chooses to say yes to God. We honour Mary who participates in God’s remaking of the world in Jesus Christ. And yet, the bible doesn’t tell us all that much about her. The evangelist Luke describes her as a virgin living in Nazareth, in Galilee. In both Matthew and Luke, Mary conceives a child and gives birth to him. We also hear that her husband/fiancé (Matthew and Luke don’t quite agree) is named Joseph. After that introduction, we hear scattered bits and pieces. The bible is silent about Mary’s death–or her falling asleep, or dormition. Long-standing tradition holds that she died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace. In keeping with centuries of tradition, the Roman Catholic Church dogmatically defined in 1950 that Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

Sundays and Seasons makes an important point about what we do hear about Mary in the bible:

Mary’s role is not limited to giving birth to Jesus and mothering him in his childhood. In John’s gospel, she is among the women standing near the cross; in Acts, she is among the disciples awaiting the gift of the Spirit. Through all that happened she continued to see how God was at work through her son, keeping the ancient promises to her ancestors, brushing aside the rich and powerful, and focusing on those as poor and powerless as Mary herself.

This Sunday, we’ll hear Mary’s song of praise to God, and rejoice in God’s hopes for each and all of us.