8 September 2007

Luke 1: 39- 47

"Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb'". (v. 41b, 42)


Although many Methodists probably let it go by unnoticed, on this day in the church year, the nativity of the Virgin Mary is remembered. Her birth has been celebrated by the Church since the sixth century, as part of the veneration given to her as mother of Jesus. There is no information in the gospels about Mary's very early life, and the Church's earliest traditions about her childhood and parenthood are found in the second century apocryphal Gospel of St James. 

In line with this week's focus on humility, Mary can be seen as someone who humbly accepted the will of God. "Here am I" she said, "the servant of the Lord" (v. 38). 

Some Methodist churches hold Covenant services at this time of year, and there are echoes of Mary's words in the classic prayer of commitment: 

"I am no longer my own, but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things." 

In today's passage, Mary visits Elizabeth, soon to become the mother of John the Baptist, and Elizabeth exclaims the words which have become associated with Mary down the centuries: "Blessed are you among women". Luke includes several songs when he tells the stories about the birth of Jesus. In her song, Mary begins by praising God. 

The humble person will seek to glorify God, rather than themselves.

To Ponder

How can we know if God has a purpose for our lives?

What can we learn from the humility of Mary in accepting God's purposes?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.