Today is the feast of Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom 7 evil spirits were expelled by Jesus and became the first apostle – the apostle to the apostles. As I drank my morning cuppa I had been reading a bit of a book about women in the early church and was pleasantly surprised by the coincidence. I was also touched by the readings and psalms set for morning prayer. The verses in particular:
1I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have raised me up ♦
and have not let my foes triumph over me.
2O Lord my God, I cried out to you ♦
and you have healed me.
3You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; ♦
you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.
4Sing to the Lord, you servants of his; ♦
give thanks to his holy name.
Heaviness may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; ♦
you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
12Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; ♦
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.
“whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.” (From 1 Samuel 16.14-23).
Music can be a great soother to those troubled in spirit. It sounds as though Saul had a depressive illness. However, I believe that the spirits that were in Mary were evil spirits, not a mental illness.
Luke 8.1-3. Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
In addition to these scriptures, there was also a canticle from Song of Songs, which is one of the books of the bible that has been important to me, and which we had at our wedding. My meeting Terry and becoming his wife has been one of the outcomes of God healing me from depression and bringing me into a good place.
1Set me as a seal upon your heart, ♦
as a seal upon your arm;
2For love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave; ♦
its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.
3Many waters cannot quench love, ♦
neither can the floods drown it.
4If all the wealth of our house were offered for love, ♦
it would be utterly scorned.
cf Song of Solomon 8.6, 7
The Collect for today:
whose Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I am thankful to God for all he has done in me and pray that I too will serve him in the power of his risen life. Part of my response to this has been to put together my journal entries and art work into a book so that I can be a witness to what Jesus has done and to encourage others in their journey of encountering His healing. This has been a project on and off since about 2011. At the beginning of this year I decided that I would either publish it this year (or at least get it to a publisher for consideration) or forget it. We are now getting towards the end of July. I need to set aside time each week to do this during the school holidays. Once September arrives I will be on holiday and then back into full swing of busy parish ministry….. it will be Christmas before we know it!!!!
From evening prayer:
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival. Zephaniah 3
It has been a good day and I sit here in the late afternoon for evening prayer thankful for all the Lord has done today and in the past. I do a preliminary sketch for a possible future painting:
There is a very similar picture that I did many years ago based on other scriptures but with a similar theme. I think that perhaps I will re-visit it – but not today. I have a PCC meeting to get off to now. Maybe this can be a theme for this week for me.