Stonehaven Baptist Church

By Alex Russon / February 25, 2024

Luke 8 : 1-3

The three most popular female names these days are Olivia, Emma and Charlotte …a bit of useless information for you there perhaps, but interesting nonetheless! Wind back a couple of millennia and one of the most popular names of the day was Mary, the bible contains a few. One such Mary was Mary Magdalene, a well known character of the New Testament, and this week at Stonehaven Baptist Church we enjoyed finding out more about her.

Mary’s relationship with Jesus was a close one from the moment he freed her of seven ‘demons’ which had blighted her life. We don’t know what these afflictions were, perhaps a combination of mental anguishes and physical ailments, the ‘demons’ many of us face, but she was freed of them and dedicated herself to the author of her healing thereafter. When he was being crucified in agony, nailed to a wooden cross, Mary was present. When he was taken down from the cross and moved to a tomb, she followed closely and when his resurrection was complete it was Mary Magdalene to whom he appeared first, speaking with her.

And what did Jesus want of Mary Magdalene? He appears in our lives not by chance, there’s always a purpose, so what was the reason for her experience of Jesus? Well she’d been a very troubled individual until he freed her of those demons and it brought home to her just how critical he was to her life, and how powerful he could be when she invited him in. It wasn’t enough however simply for her to acknowledge what he’d done though, she was required to honour his mercy too, to be thankful and to embrace him in a transformational sense. She was expected to not only wake up and take notice but to surrender fully and commit herself to him.

Whatever skills, abilities and assets she’d been blessed with she would now return to her creator and use to his glory, but not as a reluctantly given sacrifice (as if a burnt offering literally going up in smoke!). No, she honoured God by gifting her time and abilities to accomplish his will for her life and for others. That included her material possessions, yes her money, and money’s not a dirty word. When Morrissey sang “the church all they want is your money” it played to an audience of folk who’s conviction is that the church wish your hard cash purely for their own personal use and own private gain but in truth, churches distribute income for the furtherment of God’s work. Such work isn’t accomplished without cash behind it so we needn’t shy away from, or apologise for, the very real need for money to fund the work required to make the best of people’s abilities in teaching, nursing and on grander scales; building infrastructures to kickstart new beginnings for new communities, here and abroad.

And what are we doing with the abilities and strengths that we’ve been blessed with? Are we using them to the full or wasting them, using them to a small degree yet not for communal benefit, just for our own? ‘Don’t hide your light under a bushel’ as the saying goes, that’s to say don’t hold back or lessen the positive impact your abilities can have on others, don’t be reluctant to bless others with what you have to offer. We’re implored to share our gifts, maximising all we’ve been blessed with, fulfilling our lives not strangling them. You’ve been blessed, just as Mary Magdalene was, and the invitation offered to her by God is also offered to you. Stay close to God, be guided by him and a world of peace and joy awaits. He’ll see you right and then some!