Today at St. Mary’s we celebrated our monthly Wednesday Eucharist, and it was fitting that we used the propers for the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin–a nice preparation for the St. Mary’s Day Festival on Sunday, August 28.
Nine of us gathered for worship and prayer. We anointed with oil those seeking God’s healing and sent out Eucharistic Visitors to visit four families. We offered the Eucharist in memory of those who had died in the past month. Of course, as our Offertory prayer, we prayed for our parish family.
The color for this feast day is blue, and Alan and I pulled out our blue stoles. Hanging on the door of the sacristy closet was my blue stole from Guatemala that my brother had given me when I was ordained a transitional deacon twenty four years ago. When I received it, the stole was a bright, bright blue, not really the “correct” Advent blue. However, over time, it became a favorite Advent stole, and eventually, because it contained every liturgical color within its design, it was the stole I kept in my car to wear for home communions. It has travelled a lot of miles being part of the blessing of bread and wine, persons and animals, homes and even a sports bar.
My bright blue stole went through the flood waters of the Tax Day Flood in my Prius, not safely parked in three feet of water in my garage. We rescued the flood-covered stoles and hung them to dry in my back yard. I decided to burn, reverently, the stoles because I thought that they were so damaged that they were past saving, but a parishioner was determined to restore them to use.
After many launderings and soakings, my stole is wearable again. Granted, it is now faded to more of an aqua color–befitting its flood journey. The panels have become more like stained glass, the dyes having bled and run together creating new colors and patterns. I wore this well-loved and well-worn stole for the first time today for the Eucharist honoring our patron, Mary.
As we read the Gospel appointed for her day, that Gospel we call the Magnificat, I was struck that those words were sung by Mary days after she had received her invitation from God to bear God’s son. Everything was new for her–it was like she had been given a brand new, bright blue stole. She had no idea the wonder and delight and, yes, suffering she had before her. By the end of her life, her “stole” would have been faded, damaged, no longer pristine, but beautiful with the memories of service that she had carried.
My stole, after the flood, is more perfect because of the wonder, delight, suffering, and prayer it represents. This stole was given in love, worn in love, and repaired in love. The changing colors and patterns, more beautiful in surprise, are an image of God’s yes to the prayer we are praying for our parish family–the faithful strengthened, the careless aroused, and the penitent restored as we do have all things necessary for our common life, through Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary. AMEN