22nd July : Mary Magdalene
I have a special affection for Mary Magdalene who is remembered in the church calendar today. Needless to say it has nothing to do with her (erroneous) reputation as some sort of rescued “fallen woman” ! but rather stems from her encounter with Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection as told in John chapter 20.
It is when Jesus uses her name, that Mary recognises him, and is able to do what he asks, to go and tell the others that He is Risen. He speaks to her, not in general terms, not as an anonymous representative, but as a person, he calls her by name.
It’s that name thing again –
Here’s the deal with names for me! forgive me if I’ve said it all before!
When I was little I used to be very proud of the fact that my name means “messenger of God”.. goodness knows what my parents were thinking…
Fast forward to 1994 and i’m watching the very first ordination of women priests from Bristol Cathedral. The very first to be ordained was Angela Berners-Wilson. As the bishop prayed over her “Send your Holy Spirit upon your servant Angela” that was when I felt God saying to me “- and this is for you too…” A friend gave me a copy of a newspaper the next day with those words as the headline!
One of the verses that became very important to me while I was going theorugh the whole selection process was from Isaiah 43
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
It wasn’t until after my recomendation for training that I made the connection between the circumstances of that original sense of vocation, the meaning of my name and that verse that had become so important to me!
When I arrived in Salisbury for the first weekend at college, I discovered that the newly installed font had those words from Isaiah inscribed around the edge.
..and to bring the story full circle, on Monday I was in Bristol Cathedral, where that first ordination had been held, at a Eucharist celebrating Mary Magdalene ( albeit a couple of days early!) and not only was the gospel naturally enough that account from John, but the verses from Isaiah were used in the closing worship too. God does like to make a point sometimes!