The Crucifix and Magnificat Mary

I was recently asked why we have a crucifix in the church.

The simple and short answer is… Good Friday! The long answer became was Sunday’s homily that I will post below.

The particular crucifix we have hanging at St Aidan’s church, came from the Church of the Hosannas. It’s is a beautiful piece – all carved from a single piece of wood. It was important to those of us in leadership to give prominence to some of the things from Hosannas as they are a reminder of the importance of the community who walk with us now and play such an integral role in our reorganized parish. This particular piece of art has been in our wall now for four years. I hope it has not taken that long for folks to notice its presence. But this past week was the first time anyone has asked about it.

So why would churches have crucifixes… because we cannot ever forget the fact that God, in choosing to come dwell among us, chose solidarity with the broken, the vulnerable and the powerless. We don’t often think of that this time of year. The image we usually hold up is a pretty and gentle manger scene. But we must acknowledge that the Incarnation, the gift we celebrate at Christmas, takes on its most vivid expression in the Passion of Jesus.

Mary understood it! She got it completely. When she sung her song there was no doubt that she knew that what she was birthing was not some WASPy pale baby, as he’s often depicted on Christmas cards, but a child of God who would be shaped by his Jewish faith to boldly proclaim a new reign for God’s people. This refugee would make waves. She suspected that this child she was carrying would make her proud, and cause her worry beyond imagination. Given her faith and willingness to lean on God, she knew that even if it hurt, she must say yes to delivering hope, love, joy, and peace to the world – even if it meant ridicule, and judgement, even if it meant the she would have no control over what might happen to this child who would be bold enough to lift up the broken hearted and scatter the proud in their conceit. She said yes to working towards the Reign of God knowing it would be costly discipleship.

As many of you know I have been posting photos of Magnificat Mary all over social media. She has been my response to Elf on the Shelf. This little Mary that I carry with me every day has opened many doors to conversation. This Advent she has provided me a tool to converse with many who are broken or suffering. She has been a blessing this Advent journey. You see in the many conversations I have had about Mary I have heard the retelling of the Passion of Jesus. Again and again, I have been privileged to have friend and stranger share their vulnerabilities with me and to say how pleased they are to talk with another knowing that there are people who follow along ‘the Way’ who are willing to to listen, to console, and to be present. People who are fellow sojourners who are willing to also share their stories.

On Sunday I shared some of my stories of Magnificat Mary. How I have been told of a job loss, death and grief, of loss of relationship, of addiction, depression and loneliness. I have been told of miracles, of unimagined possibilities, and incredible strength born of a faith in God who she proclaimed would deliver strength, hope and possibility to the humble and meek. Magnificat Mary has given me much to ponder and even more to proclaim.

And there I was. That question I was asked lingered;

“Why is there a Crucifix in our church?’

At one point during my homily at 1030, I was holding both the little statue of Mary and the Crucifix at the same time. It was clear to me what these images are important – they are symbols that help communicate our story and yet, I could almost hear some of our forbears say; ‘It would appear the church has a Papist rector!’ Thank God those days are gone….. they are gone…right?

Some photos of #MagnificatMary and her travels …

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