Love like you’re married to Christ

This devotional is for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.  It is part of a recording of the Evening Prayer, which you will find re-blogged below.

As this is a major feast day it’s good to take a moment to reflect on the lessons and reflect on this day, this commemoration of St. Mary Magdalene.

It has to be admitted up front that the scripture readings in our daily lectionary are just part of the continuous readings; they’re not appointed (at least in Evening Prayer) for this feast specifically. Nevertheless there is the occasional convenient coincidence, shall we say.

We have in Ezra 10 this very “exciting” story basically of a case of Divorce For The Glory Of God: all of these returning exiles in Jerusalem who’ve married foreign women and have to put them away, and have to live a new life, committed to God, even in their marriage and family life. Certainly [this is] a very extraordinary case, and not one we should lightly or unadvisedly repeat, but nevertheless it’s there. And it has the long list of names, which is option in the lectionary – you can skip them but I read them all, however imperfectly. But it’s important sometimes to read these names; it adds gravity, it adds reality to these stories. This is not just some random collection of people, these are real people who had to make this very difficult choice. So it’s a list that adds gravity, adds reality, and adds shame! This is a list of sinners, yet, of people who repented, so it’s not just a list of shame, it’s a list of grace.

So instead they’re called to faithful marriages within the people of God, and that is part of their existence in Old Covenant, Old Testament, Israel. Certainly, this shows a call to marriage-like faithfulness to God, something that we in the New Covenant as Christians are very much called to have – to be the Bride of Christ. Indeed, this was certainly not planned [by me], but the anthem we just sang also speaks of the same thing:

The dearest idol I have known
Whate’er that may be
Help me to tear it from my throne
And worship only thee.
So shall my walk be close with God…

Even there: divorce for the glory of God, taking away the idols, separating ourselves from our worldly affections.

This relates in an interesting little way to Mary Magdalene. She exhibited a love much like that. She was healed from many infirmities; she was delivered from seven demons, the scriptures say elsewhere; Jesus also made the comment that he or she who is forgiven much, loves much; and Mary Magdalene certainly loved Jesus. She had an affection that was very visible, especially in John 20, the most extant story of her interaction with him, when Jesus sent her to report to the Apostles.

So that real emotion-supported (not emotion-based alone) love, affection, committment to Christ – Mary Magdalene certainly exhibited that. And whatever kind of person she was before her calling – the old traditional assumption was that she was a prostitute, although the Scriptures don’t tell us that for sure – whatever she was, whoever she was before she came to know Christ’s forgiving power and love, she came into a place of wonderful affection for our Lord Jesus Christ: one that we would do well to imitate and learn from; one that sets aside the idols, the unholy marriages that we make in the course of life, and we replace that with the perfect Bridegroom, Jesus our Lord.

Thanks be to God.

The Saint Aelfric Customary

We’ve got a daily hymnody plan available, an order for using the Occasional Prayers, and some insight on how to sing Simplified Anglican Chant.  Let’s put it all together and see what Evening Prayer can be like. We did this with Morning Prayer last week, but now let’s add some chanting to spruce up this feast day commemorating St. Mary Magdalene.  I should warn you that there are a couple of stumblings, hesitations, and even mistakes as I read, pray, and sing.  That’s life, that’s reality.  I’m not here to perform for anyone, and I just want to encourage you to pray and sing, yourself, too.  Anyway, grab your 2019 Prayer Book, ESV Bible, and 2017 Hymnal, and listen and pray along!

Order of service (so you can get your books ready)…

  1. Opening Sentence (BCP 41)
  2. Confession *
  3. Invitatory Dialogue with Hymn #444 instead of the Phos hilaron **

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About Fr. Brench

I'm an Anglican Priest and a sci-fi geek. Therefore, I write about liturgy & spiritual formation, theology & biblical studies, and Doctor Who. But I keep those blogs separate so I don't confuse too many people!
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