Today is the feast of the Visitation of Mary, celebrating this story from Luke 1:39-49:
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; e has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
As a follow-up to this holiday, I will be posting a four-part series of posts about Mary, seeking address various angles of doctrine and belief concerning her from an Anglican perspective – meaning: first grounded in scripture, then holding a respectful view of the historic teaching and tradition of the Church, seeking reasonable conclusions thereby. The topics I plan to address are:
- Mary’s theological identity – the biblical typologies that link her to Israel and to the Church
- Mary’s relational identity – how her motherhood of Christ points to larger motherhood and queenship concepts
- Mary’s human identity – the idea of her perpetual virginity and the question of her family
- Mary’s soteriological identity – the implications of Mary as the Second Eve and the idea of her sinlessness
Don’t expect too groundbreaking a series; there are long-entrenched ideas and doctrines on one side of Christian tradition, and fiercely-held biases against them on the other side. I’m just trying to wade through swampy ground of debate in the hopes of finding some dry patches to stand on.