URC Daily Devotion Monday 21st December 2020

Monday 21st December Ave Maria

The Hail Mary prayer comes, in its first part, from today’s Scripture reading and has been sent to countless forms of music over the years.  Whilst not normally used in the Reformed tradition it does still inspire millions of Christians around the world.

St Luke 1: 39 – 45

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit  and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Ave Maria/Hail Mary

This can be heard here

Ave Maria, gratia plena, 
Dominus tecum, 
benedicta tu in mulieribus, 
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesu.  
(Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, 
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, 
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.  Amen)

Hail Mary, full of grace, 
the Lord is with thee. 
 Blessed art thou amongst women 
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  
(Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
pray for us sinners, 
now and at the hour of our death, Amen)


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 

In the United Reformed Church in which I grew up there was a retired man who came from Northern Ireland. He had a strong Presbyterian background and, while some congregants there would leave worship as we got to the Communion hymn, he was vehemently against the use of candles in worship. For him, their use was so intrinsically linked with Roman Catholicism, and to the sectarianism of his upbringing, that he couldn’t stomach their presence in church. I suspect, although I do not know, any emphasis on Mary would have provoked a similar response, highlighting yet another area in which Roman Catholicism had a monopoly. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 

Perhaps that’s why we don’t focus much on Mary in our Reformed tradition, perhaps just as we don’t focus too much time on other supporting characters in the story of Jesus. Of course, we don’t need to venerate Mary (or Peter or Paul for that matter), but in distancing ourselves we perhaps leave ourselves wanting. There is a missed opportunity.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 

The Church provides a space for John the Baptist, that prophet who foretold of the coming of Christ, with the lectionary focusing on him several times (perhaps too often!) over the winter period. Yet we tend not to give such an open platform to Mary, to hear of the prophetic words echoed through Elizabeth, the glory of her Magnificat, her proclamation, her foretelling. Shouldn’t we be more open to the presence of a woman’s story in our faith? Are we frightened to focus on Mary, not because of sectarianism but because we cannot fathom what it means to see a young woman as a pillar of our devotion? Maybe our problem is that we fail institutionally to give platform to enough women in our Church? 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 

Mary’s Child,
help us to realise where we fall short
and do not hear your prophetic Word
because we disregard the messenger. 
Mary’s Child,
make us aware of the voices we do not hear
and the faces that do not fit
when we celebrate your incarnation. 
Mary’s Child,
speak to us in new ways,
through all your Prophets. 
Blessed are we in your name. Amen. 


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett, Chaplaincy Coordinator, Newcastle University 



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