Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
Then Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women,
including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation (translated from March 25), we notice that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is present in the first chapter of both Luke and Acts.
In some translations, Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel begins, “Behold…” The NRSV uses the Hebrew prophetic response: “Here I am.” This young woman in an obscure village would be easy for many people to ignore, but God beholds her as a person of promise, and Mary boldly responds to God.
St. Mary’s, Reading, and St. Mary’s Wind Gap, are both small parishes which might not get much notice, but both are worth beholding.
St. Mary’s, Reading started as a mission of Christ Church, Reading, in 1904. St. Mary’s beholds those who might be ignored because of their disability. After a member became blind and homebound, the congregation began a pilot program of producing quality CDs of the liturgy, in advance, so that those who are blind or elderly can listen to the service and Scripture readings; praying together with the congregation, although in different places. This small Anglo-Catholic, inner city church, seeks to help its members, whether Latino, African American, Anglo, African, economically or intellectually challenged, say, “Here I am,” and claim themselves as people of promise.
St. Mary’s, Wind Gap was started in the early 1900’s, by Italian immigrants in the Slate Belt, who originally lived on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Now, there are new immigrants moving in, and the congregation is being challenged to behold and be open to them. The small congregation has a big fundraiser, making thousands of sub sandwiches to sell to people and businesses in the area. People from outside the church help make the subs; joining in God’s work. The church is located on the corner of Main Street, and has a good amount of land. They are saying to God, “Here I am” and listening for what God is calling them to do.
Who might you be called to behold in your community or congregation? What promise might God have for you?