Fr David's sermon
15th August 2004
Those of our number abroad on holiday today may well find the town where they are staying 'en fete' for the Feast of the Assumption, the celebration of the Catholic doctrine that after her death Mary was assumed bodily into heaven. In most European countries the Assumption is a public holiday and given the secular nature of Western society little more than an excuse for a party for many. To our sober Anglican mind the Assumption is problematic; a 'big assumption' as on wag put it. We could consider the theological assumptions behind the doctrine as well as the social and historical factors behind the revival of the Cult of Mary in late C19th and early C20th Roman Catholicism. Bur being Anglicans we play safe and keep today as the Fest of the Blessed Virgin without particular doctrinal insistence.
We also express our Marian theology unofficially in song. We sing of Mary. As well as being an Archdeacon of Hackney the late George Timms also wrote hymns, one of which we will sing today, 'Sing we of the blessed mother.' It is a meditation on four episodes from Mary's life, a kind of abridged Rosary. As in all icons depicting Mary our attention is directed to her Son Jesus. We are also led to respond in faith to the Gospel message.
Thus in an Anglican way we are drawn to reflect on the person of Mary as we sing. The hymns we sing are rooted in the scriptures and in the tradition of the Church. Most of us will be more comfortable with this approach than with the papal proclamation of the Assumption as a dogma to be believed by all Christians.
It is well known that music affects us at a far deeper level than the spoken word. Good music, good hymnody can take us beyond the rational to God who is both knowable and yet unknowable. In singing of Mary, the blessed Mother we pray that with her we may be drawn more closely into the joyful and sorrowful mysteries of God. We pray that like her we may come to know him more fully through his Son Jesus Christ Our Lord.
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Last updated 18/08/04 09:00 Author: David Shepherd