By Benjamin Straley
Though a date not found on our Anglican calendars, today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, with many large pilgrimages and processions taking place in Latin America and abroad. And although not defined until as recently as 1854, the Roman doctrine around the Immaculate Conception is certainly consonant with tradition and reason, if not scripture. I am not here to speculate or ponder the place of Marian veneration in Anglicanism, however; but I would suggest that in Mary we see a sign of profound Hope, which is the theme of this Advent blog series.
When we consider that God, in preparing the way for Jesus, could move through and in the life of Mary to bring about the salvation of the world, we should ponder all that preceded her 'Yes' at Gabriel's Annunciation to her. As the Psalmist says, "Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb; all of them were written in your book..." (Ps. 139, v. 15).
As Rowan Williams points out, "Mary stands for all the history of God's people, the steady knowledge of promise and faithfulness; but she is also the first explicit believer in Jesus: from her womb flows the river of life. And when we echo her 'Yes,' the freshness of God in Jesus flows from the center of our being too." (Footnote)
That we, likewise, can bear Christ to the world around us should fill us with immense hopefulness for the life of that same world; and that God begins working in and through us, even before we are aware of it, leading to those moments where we are called upon to act, should fill us with not only hope - yes - but awe and wonder.
Footnote: Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin. Copyright 2002 by Rowan Williams. Published by Canterbury Press, Norwich, United Kingdom.