Mary’s Folks

So today, as my brain was trying to process that Christ was to be born of the line of David, and we knew that Joseph was of the line of David, but that would sorta mess up the whole concept of the divine parent, I started wondering about Mary’s ancestry.  From Luke, we know that Mary was of the tribe of Judah, and was also descended from the line of King David, but then, of course, I began wondering why Mary’s parents didn’t go with them to Bethlehem for the census, since that’s where the line of King David went to be counted.

So as I’m going nuts, trying to find evidence of any of this in the various translations of the Bible, Bible dictionaries, study Bibles, etc., I’m finding nothing!  Parents to the rescue. <g>

According to the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary”, and the Pseudo-Matthew, or “Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Childhood of the Saviour”.  Mary’s parents were Anne (Hebrew Hannah), and Joachim.  Joachim was of the tribe of Judah, of the line of David, married for 50 years to Anne.  Anne was barren until very late in life, and like with Samuel’s mother, she promised God that if He would bless her with a child, she would dedicate the child to the Temple.  So, Mary was born, and at age 3, was delivered to the Temple to be raised.  Joachim died shortly after Mary’s birth, but Anne went on to remarry and have more children.  Hence why Mary’s father did not accompany them on their trip to Bethlehem for the census.

None of these “facts” are backed up with any sort of historical evidence, which makes you sort of question their canonization.
The facts are slightly different in the Eastern Orthodox church, where both Anne and Joachim lived until Mary was approximately 10, visiting Mary at the Temple often.
Apparently an actual “cult-like movement” built around St. Anne, which Martin Luther fought strongly against.
Together St. Anne and St. Joachim are known as the parents of the Theotokos, or God-bearer, and are the patron saints of grandparents. 🙂
Sources are partially Roman Catholic, partially Greek Orthodox.  Interestingly, Mary’s exceptional parenting of Jesus is attributed to following the example of *her* parents, which is one of the reasons they are venerated (made saints).  I don’t get where that comes from, given that they gave her to the church when she was 3 – not much time to have any sort of influence on her at all.  Even if the story about them living until she was 10 and they visited her often were true, often in those days would have meant infrequent by modern standards – the temple was quite a way from where they lived, and would necessitate taking time away from whatever was supporting them (and they didn’t have other children to support them).  Additionally, these texts weren’t discovered until the 4th century, and are presumed written in approximately 145 AD.

The Catholics like the concept because the Gospel of James speaks to the virginity of Mary not only prior to Jesus’ birth, but also after, which is why they always refer to her as “ever virgin”.  Mainstream texts talk about Jesus’ brothers, but they point to this “Gospel” to show that Mary was approximately 13 to 14 when she became pregnant with Jesus, and Joseph was approximately 30 – implying that the siblings were actually from a previous marriage of Joseph.
Now, I know that times have changed, but I truly cannot imagine a man being married and not having sex with his wife, ever.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought a marriage wasn’t even considered valid until it was consummated.  I mean, I know that guy had to have patience, but gimme a break. <g>
None of the information is corroborated through historical sources  (i.e., Mary’s dedication to the church, Anne and Joaquim’s “miracle” child, marriage of Mary and Joseph – although if the records were all church related and could have been lost – however, there also wasn’t record of Joaquim’s presence in a previous census or evidence of him having a child, which would have been Roman records), nor is there similar anecdotal evidence from other sources accepted into the Bible.  This would be why they’re apocryphal books and not part of the mainstream Bible.
At the same time, some of those apocryphal sources are very cool, *and* tend to focus a bit more on women and women’s points of view – which may have been another reason for keeping them out at the time.
So, it’s interesting information, but at this point, I’d have to put it in the myth to legend category – there’s probably some element of truth in there, but after all the embellishment, it’s impossible to tell which element it is. 🙂

30-Day Challenge, Day 12, 1 Chronicles 16:8-14

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people.  Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him; talk ye of all His wondrous works.  Glory ye in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.  Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.  Remember His marvelous works that He hath done, His wonders and the judgments of His mouth, O ye seed of Israel His servant, ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones!  He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth.

Notes:

Well, interestingly, this passage is a direct repeat of Psalm 105, with the exception of substituting “Israel” for “Abraham”.  This day has been slightly too busy, so this particular passage is going on my research more about this list. <g>

Interesting paper by a Lutheran pastor discussing the extensive OT quotations used in Chronicles.

30-Day Challenge, Day 11, Psalm 136:13-26

to him who split apart the Sea of Suf,
for his grace continues forever;
and made Isra’el cross right through it,
for his grace continues forever;
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Suf,
for his grace continues forever;
to him who led his people through the desert,
for his grace continues forever;
to him who struck down great kings,
for his grace continues forever;
yes, he slaughtered powerful kings,
for his grace continues forever;
Sichon king of the Emori,
for his grace continues forever;
and ‘Og king of Bashan,
for his grace continues forever;
then he gave their land as a heritage,
for his grace continues forever;
to be possessed by Isra’el his servant,
for his grace continues forever;
who remembers us whenever we are brought low,
for his grace continues forever;
and rescues us from our enemies,
for his grace continues forever;
who provides food for every living creature,
for his grace continues forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his grace continues forever.

Notes:

There’s an interesting commentary on this passage, comparing the physical infections found after surgeries (leading to the subsequent discovery of microbes causing the infections by Joseph Lister), to how to avoid the spiritual infections of man by constantly giving thanks, praising God, and remembering that God delivers us from all our enemies, not just the physical, but the spiritual as well.  Our “antiseptic” if you will, is that thanks and praise – that awareness of God in all things, and the trust that He and the grace that passes understanding, will always be there in our defense.

30-Day Challenge, Day 10, Psalm 136:1-12

Give thanks to Adonai, for he is good,
for his grace continues forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his grace continues forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his grace continues forever;

to him who alone has done great wonders,
for his grace continues forever;
to him who skillfully made the heavens,
for his grace continues forever;
to him who spread out the earth on the water,
for his grace continues forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his grace continues forever;
the sun to rule the day,
for his grace continues forever;
the moon and stars to rule the night,
for his grace continues forever;

to him who struck down Egypt’s firstborn,
for his grace continues forever;
and brought Isra’el out from among them,
for his grace continues forever;
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,
for his grace continues forever;

Notes:

This is one of the meditative or choral Psalms, where there is the repeated phrase that allows you to get into a particular rhythm as you say it aloud.  Interestingly, however, the repeated phrase changes, depending on translation – the above is the Jewish version.  King James uses “mercy” in place of “grace”; NIV uses “love” in place of “grace”; and ASV uses “lovingkindness” (is that truly one word?)  All positive attributes, of course, but the meanings are vastly different.  Additionally, “continues” is the word here, whereas endureth, endures, and is eternal are used elsewhere.  Also interesting connotations to each of those words.

This would be why I go with the Hebrew for OT readings, unless I know it was written in another language.  Interestingly, several of the Psalms were written in Syriac – a language I’ve only recently made the acquaintance of.  Despite its region of origin, I think it sounds more like Aramaic than Arabic.  However, this one’s origin is Hebrew.

Another interesting perspective can be found here.  It’s often the mechanics of things that get my complete attention, particularly when dealing with translations, poetry and why people choose how something gets translated in certain ways.  Not sure if that’s a weakness or a strength. 🙂

30-Day Challenge, Day 9, Psalm 100:1-5

Shout for joy to Adonai, all the earth!
Serve Adonai with gladness.
Enter his presence with joyful songs.
Be aware that Adonai is God;
it is he who made us; and we are his,
his people, the flock in his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
enter his courtyards with praise;
give thanks to him, and bless his name.
For Adonai is good, his grace continues forever,
and his faithfulness lasts through all generations.

Notes:

Another of the passages often said with the Episcopal Morning Prayer service, so again, another of my favorites.  Joy is such an oft-ignored emotion in our society.  Happiness and contentment are fairly common, but joy adds an element of love and rejoicing to happiness and contentment, that can only be expressed with some sort of outward, emotional manifestation so that our hearts don’t explode with the influx of feeling found in joy.

30-Day Challenge, Day 8, Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, “Rejoice!”  Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Fret not about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things which ye have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.

Notes:

Because I’m preparing to facilitate a workshop on forgiveness and letting go, this passage comes in handy – where are you going to put your focus and your energy?  Although I don’t remember her, I’m told that I’m much like my father’s mom.  She apparently always found the good in a person and focused on that.  That’s where she put her energy, and she generally got the best of people toward her.  There were those who took advantage of her nature, but for the most part, she encouraged the best and most positive attributes in people – she made you want to be a better person, because she already saw that person in you.

In the same way, the famous Two Wolves Story talks about which attributes you feed.

And among Baha’is, one of the admonishments in “To Live the Life” is:  “To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, look at the ten and forget the one. And if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.”  I can remember putting that on my wall at this one place I worked.  I’d been told my boss was difficult to work for, and I was coming up on 2 years – longer than anyone had worked for him.  I finally blew up that section on the photocopy machine and tacked it up on the wall, just to continue reminding myself, and when the positives were that he dressed very sharp and the part in his hair was quite straight, I knew it was time to find another job, so that I could continue thinking of him in a kindly manner. <grin>

So choosing to rejoice in God, in the blessings God has given us, is just that – a choice, made consciously, and acted on each and every day.

30-Day Challenge, Day 7, Psalm 107:1-9

Give thanks to Adonai; for he is good,
for his grace continues forever.
Let those redeemed by Adonai say it,
those he redeemed from the power of the foe.
He gathered them from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the sea.

They wandered in the desert, on paths through the wastes,
without finding any inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty,
their life was ebbing away.

In their trouble they cried to Adonai,
and he rescued them from their distress.
He led them by a direct path
to a city where they could live.

Let them give thanks to Adonai for his grace,
for his wonders bestowed on humanity!
For he has satisfied the hungry,
filled the starving with good.

Notes:

I’ve read commentary after commentary on this, and just end up going, well, “Duh”.  This passage is the beginning of one of the timeless Psalms of thanksgiving, and could apply to many times in history and in the lives of individuals.  Whether this was written after God rescued the Jews from the Egyptians or from the Babylonians, it still says and means the same thing.  But, the music above is from Psalters of the 16th Century, and is beautiful.  I’m still working on reading Psalters – it’s a challenge. <g>

30 Day Challenge, Day 6, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

And we beseech you, brethren, that you come to know those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.  See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and with all men.  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Notes:

I actually think this kind of defines what this blog is about.  Be aware of God in all things.  Take care of the church; know the capacities of each person in it; and keep things peaceful between you.  Remember to sing praises when happy or blessed; to pray whenever anything – good, bad or indifferent – happens in your life; consult with God and keep God in mind in all things.  Prayer doesn’t have to be formal, but can be quick, or can be filtering everything through the heart of God as you go.  Prayer is action as well as reflection and intention.  So when someone doubts that they can pray without ceasing, point out that there’s no reason to doubt – simply include God – in your thoughts, your heart, your relationships, your actions, your plans.

30 Day Challenge, Day 5, Colossians 3:12-17

Therefore, holy and beloved, as the elect of God, put on hearts of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another if any man have a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.

Notes:

It is interesting, context-wise, that verses 5-11 of this chapter tell Christians of things they are to avoid, shun and disavow in their lives, while 12-17 points out those attributes they are to foster and encourage – not just to have these attributes, but rather to live them.  In the same way that Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”, putting on these attributes is the way to live life in Christ.  And continuing further in the chapter, we will be admonished to put on all these things in love – thereby reminding us of the commandments of Christ.  When we put on all these things in Christ, we truly exemplify how He would have us live.  Our “clothing” becomes less about our outward appearance, and more about our soul, the spirit that shines forth through us and attracts others to faith in Christ.

30 Day Challenge, Day 4, Isaiah 12:2-6

“See! God is my salvation.
I am confident and unafraid;
for Yah Adonai is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation!”

Then you will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation.
On that day you will say,
“Give thanks to Adonai! Call on his name!
Make his deeds known among the peoples,
declare how exalted is his name.
Sing to Adonai, for he has triumphed —
this is being made known throughout the earth.
Shout and sing for joy,
you who live in Tziyon;
for the Holy One of Isra’el
is with you in his greatness!”

Notes:

At first reading, it’s actually interesting to me how much this seems like a Psalm.  But then you think about what made Psalms what they were – the singing and interpretation of King David.  And how many verses in Isaiah have been set to music?  I don’t think I can read any passage of Isaiah and not come across a song I’ve learned.  Here’s a lovely song for this particular passage:

It makes sense that a challenge leading up to Thanksgiving is about thanksgiving, praise and joy.