“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.” These are the words from a woman who though born with sight and hearing became blind and deaf, due to illness at 19 months. Helen Keller would become an author, political activist, and lecturer. When the Presiding Bishop visited St. Mary’s this summer, he asked for which Mary was our congregation named, Mary the mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene. I smiled and said, Mary the mother of Jesus. It later got me thinking about the connotation. While I was certain of my answer, I wondered what it would have been like to be named for Mary Magdalene, perhaps a woman of means yet said to have had many demons. Could there be any deeper contrast than to the innocent purity of the mother of Jesus? Historically this early 20th century congregation though birthed out of the sin of racism, had early innocent beginnings much like the young child that was reassured that “Through God all things are possible,” we’ve held to that truth. However, through the years we’ve also suffered some demons and yet survived. We’ve been the beneficiary of God’s grace, an ever present holiness, and along with the many volunteers and partnerships, today we are able to look the world straight in the face from the street corner of a little town called Chester, PA. Because of the gift of these relationships ours is not a blind journey and the next time someone asks for which Mary, I will proudly hold my head high, smile and simply say yes. Besides, like Mary and Mary we must do what we are called by God to do, or it won’t matter so much as to which Mary for whom we are named.
Photo from “A.D. The Bible Continues: The Body is Gone”