Today, August 15, marks the day that the church commemorates the feast of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. We know Mary best from her powerful song, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior . . .” (Luke 1:46). Lutherans haven’t traditionally paid much attention to Mary apart from Advent and Christmas, which is unfortunate. She is part of the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us and she has lots to teach us!
As Pastor Amy reminded us in her sermon on Sunday
, Jesus grew up in a household where the song his mother was known for also included the words: “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1.52-53). Jesus’ faith formation took place in an environment where resistance to the status quo, a willingness to challenge power, and an understanding of God’s longing for justice was part of the music of daily life. (Imagine dinner around that table!)
Knowing this helps us make sense of Jesus’ hard words in Sunday’s gospel
: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. . . . Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” In his words, Jesus isn’t advocating for division in and of itself. Jesus knows that living into God’s vision of justice and embracing God’s reign does not just happen. It takes questioning the ways things are. It requires challenging assumptions. And none of that happens without some disruption of peace . . . or even more.
Conflict is part of the life of faith. People won’t always agree with the stances we take in the name of extending God’s grace and mercy. Yet even there, Jesus is with us, helping us interpret the times and walking with us through the heat.