"Joy Bearers and the Theotokos" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
Updated: Jan 21
A few years ago there was a viral video on Youtube of a ring bearer at a wedding. Everyone was set up. The bride and groom were in front of the altar, all of their bridesmaids and groomsmen were lined up all the way down. And you hear this sound, it starts small then gets louder. This kid is running and screaming in a tiny tux. He runs and screams all the way down the aisle and throws the whole ring pillow at the bride and groom and then runs and screams all the way back down the aisle and out of the church.
I mean, the lung capacity. He was not interested in bearing anything.
A fantasy famous ring bearer is Frodo of the Shire. From Lord of the Rings. Fate has chosen him to bear this evil ring of power that needs to be destroyed in order to save the world. He goes on a harrowing journey through middle earth to fulfill this task.
There’s one point on the movie where this burden that he bears is almost too much for him. He says to Gandalf, the wizard, “I wish the ring had never come to me, I wish none of this would have ever happened.”
Gandalf replies, “so do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. It’s up to them to decide what to do with the time they are given.”
We are bearers of many things. Things that we don’t always get to choose. Things that sometimes are not what we want. We bear burdens. We bear the world around us.
We also are the bearers of joy.
In our Gospel lesson for today, Mary becomes such a bearer.
The angel Gabriel comes to her and says, “greetings, favored one!” or more famously, you may know, “Hail, Mary!” or “Ave, Maria!”
Now, I don't know about you but when I hear a greeting like this, I think, “What do you want?” and Mary apparently feels the same. She is skeptical, perplexed. What does this guy want?
The angel comes to declare to her that she shall become a bearer. But more specifically, the “theotokos”... the God-bearer.
What a title right? A thing to bear? To be the carrier, the deliverer of God. Theotokos.
Now being the bearer of God had its hardships just like being the bearer of the one ring of middle earth. She was in danger. The baby was in danger, we know that shortly after his birth they had to flee as refugees to Egypt for safety.
She had to have the baby in a barn, there are all sorts of dangers there.
And even just right now, being the bearer of a baby was dangerous for her as an unmarried woman of the day.
I wonder if there was ever a time where Mary said, “I wish this had never come to me, I wish none of this would have ever happened.”
So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. We have to decide what to do with the time we are given.
Many of us are bearers of our own kind. Bearers of secrets, bearers of burdens, bearers of others we are caretakers for. Bearers of responsibilities. And, bearers of joy.
See Mary is the theotokos! The bearer of God. Yes, this came with fear and anxiety. But it also came with great joy. A baby, a son, to be the mother of God.
Like, Mother of Dragons is a great title, but Mother of God?? Wow.
It’s easy to fixate on the things that we bear that weigh us down. And we often forget about the things we bear that make us lighter.
What are the joys you bear?
We get to choose what to do with the time we are given. What will you do with the joys you bear?
For our psalmody this morning we hear Mary’s magnificat. Mary chooses to sing. She chooses to bear joy.
She chooses to continue to be the theotokos her whole life. She loves her son, she cares for him, she raises him, she is the bearer of God far longer than just Christmas.
Now some of you may be thinking, yeah yeah Pastor A.J. we get it, but it’s just not that easy. I mean its 2020.
Yes, it's a hard year. And choosing to bear joy in the midst of chaos is not an easy task. But you get to decide.
I wonder if like the theotokos, we can find joy to bear even in our fear and anxiety. I mean, hey, it’s almost Christmas after all.
This week, take some time to think about the joys you bear. Share those with your spouse or partner, share those with a friend, or you introverts, share those with your journal. What are the joys you bear?