Scripture gives us little information about the retirement of Mary the mother of Jesus. By retirement, I mean her life and work after the resurrection of Christ. In my particular context as pastor at Christ the King Lutheran, retirees are a potent force in the church and larger community. Many of CTK’s members claim to be more active in their retirement than they were before. I agree with them. Retirees get things done. I believe that the same was true for Mary. Our last glimpse of her in scripture is the mention of her in Acts, where she is among the faithful awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
Just as Mary mothered Jesus through his terrible twos, contrary adolescence, and into adulthood, she is among those nurturing and tending the young church.
While scripture has little else to say about Mary’s retirement, Christian tradition offers us additional stories about Mary’s adventures following the resurrection. In fact, there is such a rich store of extra-biblical legends about Mary that they sometimes bump against each other. There are multiple sites which all claim to be the location of Mary’s last decades of life, her death, and her bodily assumption into heaven: two in Jerusalem, one in France, and one on a mountain near Ephesus, Turkey. As pilgrims we visited this last location: the House of the Virgin Mary located at the top of Mt. Koressos.
Whether Mary spent her retirement in Jerusalem, France, or on top of a mountain in Turkey is anyone’s guess. What matters is the tradition of adoption that inspired Anne Katherine Emmerich to dream Mary all the way to Turkey. “Woman, here is your son…here is your mother”.
Even before the Holy Spirit was tearing through Jerusalem setting everyone’s hair on fire, the church has been about creating family in the face of loss. At the foot of the cross, John was there for Mary to cling to as her son hung in agony. Mary was there for John weep with as he watched his friend dying by inches. Jesus saw this sharing of pain and sanctified it from the cross: “Woman, here is your son.”
The House of the Virgin Mary honors this kind of love, the love of people who have been placed, drawn, or even thrown together, and are richer for it. For instance, Mary’s House is a unique holy site in that it is visited and cared for by both Christians and Muslims, since both faiths honor Mary.
You see as pilgrims, bus-mates, and friends, we, my parents, my roommate, all of us on this trip, are bound to each other, commended to each other as Mary and John were commended to each other. Placed, drawn, and even thrown together we are richer for each other. The care and kindness we offer each other is more than mere courtesy. It is the same kind of love Christ sanctified from the cross and the same love which is honored at Mary’s house: the love of people who have adopted one another in the name of Jesus and in honor of his mother.
About the Blog
Journey through the season of Advent with daily updates on the adventures of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Belliacre, MI as they attempt to cobble together a Christmas Pageant with an unlikely cast of characters.
Stephanie is an art educator and a landscape/portrait artist. Her inspirations come from the amazing people she meets and the gorgeous state of Michigan as well as her home state of Florida. She and he husband love nature. They are out in the water during the summer months and on the snow in the winter enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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Christ the King Lutheran Church
600 S. M 18
Gladwin, Mi. 48624
Pastor Emily Olsen