The Anglican Church, through the Mothers Union, each year celebrates and observes Lady Day. JAMES CHIMPWEYA wanted to know more about the origins of this day and talked to the Bishop of the Upper Shire Brighton Malasa after celebrations of this yearâ€™s event in Mwanza and donations made to the prison.
Can you tell us more about this day and its origins?
The Anglican Church worldwide commemorates and celebrates the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus Christ to St. Mary the Virgin on 25th of March annually. In our set up and in terms of guilds in the church, the Mothers Union Guild is dedicated to St. Mary who is regarded as their Matron Saint and role model. It is in this vein that this celebration is therefore championed and spearheaded by our mothers in the Mothersâ€™ Union Guild.
It is said this day falls in the Month of March, why is it so, any biblical background?
Well. The day really falls exactly nine months before Christmas, a day which Christians conventionally agreed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God through a simple woman of Nazareth. There is no biblical verse you may trace in the Bible but it is part of the church history and the work of the liturgists that came up to this set up by reading the birth stories of Jesus Christ and also trying to put it in a way it is understood easily. Logically, even by counting from 25th March to 25th of December (Christmas Day when Christians celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ), you will realise that it is exactly nine months, a normal period a physical human being develops in the womb.
Isnâ€™t this a biological set up also?
Surely it is also biological. I think our church fathers meant to underscore the whole idea of backing up the point that Jesus Christ was truly man and truly divine. The most important part of this arrangement was also to underscore that truly Jesus came to dwell among human beings in the form that he was to be accepted and not come to the world in a mystical way.
Usually Mothers Union members give to others on this day, why?
It is now a tradition in our Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire, that during such an occasion, which we hold annually on 25th March 2012, we mobilise assorted items for charity work. You may wish to know that Lady Day is not only meant for women, but all, only that it is only championed by our mothers, who we call the backbone of the church to lead the show. The celebration is not only meant for charity work, but basically we celebrate holy thanksgiving Eucharist or Mass. In our arrangement we agreed that during such an occasion, we capitalise on the same as part of the Lenten period. Ecclesia or the church teaches us that during Lenten period, we dwell much on three pillars of fasting, prayer and charity work. Formerly we have visited and cheered the sick at Zomba Central Hospital, St. Lukeâ€™s Hospital in Malosa in Zomba, St. Martinâ€™s Hospital in Malindi, Mangochi District Hospital. We also visited Ntcheu Prisoners, cheered the retired clergy who lack a lot in their daily lives and we have also supported seminarians at Leonard Kamungu Theological College.
How significant is this day in the history of the Anglican church?
Basically the day is not only significant to the Anglicans or the Catholics alone, it is very important to all the Christians and non-Christians as well. It is important to celebrate our own salvation as it is recorded in the Holy Bible. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son of Godâ€¦that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. John 3:16. This salvation is meant for all on condition that we believe in Jesus Christ, the sole founder of Christianity.
How should this day be observed apart from giving alms and sharing the word of God?
People can observe the day in different forms and styles. We in the diocese chose that one of the best ways of commemorating and celebrating the day is through prayer and alms giving. We therefore urge people to give thanks to God for our own salvation in Jesus Christ, but remembering always that, that salvation did not come on a silver platter, St. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ had to accept to be the bearer of such a salvation to the world. St. Mary also needs to be venerated or respected to the highest esteem as she is part of the salvation history of humankind. This is a fact, whether one, agrees or not!!