RSS

Tag Archives: Mary’s Song of Praise

Today is the Day of Hope (Dec 23, 2018)

Luke 1:39-55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Part of this text is called “the Magnificat,” sometimes “the Song of Mary.” Mary, pregnant with Jesus, rejoices in the promises of God being fulfilled, including justice for the poor and the lowly, feeding of the hungry, and help for all Israel. God’s justice, she remembers, includes God bringing down the powerful and sending the rich away with nothing.

That’s a pretty bold statement of hope in any situation, but it is even more so in Mary’s particular context. The Roman Empire was vast, powerful, and unforgiving. Historians write about a Jewish rebellion around 4 BCE, which triggered a massive military response from Rome. A village about 4 miles from Nazareth was burned to the ground. Those Jews who were found were killed, raped, and enslaved. Those who survived that were left with nothing. Mary was certainly well aware of this cruelty of Rome’s power, it having occurred so close to her town of Nazareth.

Yet in the face of Roman power which reached to the ends of the known world, Mary sings this song of hope. Not of hope for the future, but hope present right now in the world.

For Mary, today is the day of hope.

For Jews in that day, the only hope for justice wasn’t found in government or military or revolution. Hope could only come from God keeping God’s own promises of justice, of mercy, of compassion for all people.

For Mary, today is the day of hope. Her hope is that God would rule in the world the same way God rules in heaven. Her hope is that her soon-to-be-born son, the promised Messiah, would bring God’s justice—bringing down the power-ful and lifting up the power-less.

For Mary, today is the day of hope. Mary sings this song of hope into the very face of overwhelming helplessness. She sings this song of hope in situations like this: From NBC news Tuesday:

While the executives who presided over the bankruptcy of Sears and Kmart will ring out 2018 with news of $25.3 million in bonuses, laid-off worker Ondrea Patrick will be using her unemployment check to pay for new brakes on her 2000 Dodge Durango.

Patrick, who lost her job when the Kmart she worked at in Rockford, Illinois, closed in October, had been hoping to use the money to buy her kids . . . something new for Christmas.

And it infuriates her that they’ll be getting hand-me-downs and relying on charity this Christmas while the people in charge are handsomely rewarded.

“Those top people and (Sears CEO Eddie) Lampert are having a wonderful Christmas,” Patrick, 36, told NBC News. “They got $25 million in bonuses. Me? I’m late on my bills. The electric company is threatening to shut me off. And I don’t have anything left to spend on the kids this Christmas.”

Patrick, who worked part-time for Kmart for nine years, is one of the thousands of workers whose lives were upended in October when Sears Holdings, more than $5 billion in debt and unable to compete with Walmart and Amazon, declared bankruptcy.

“I was making $10.50 an hour when they closed my store,” Patrick said. “I got my pharm tech license and was working at the service desk. All my life we struggled and I finally felt like I was making it.”

On Friday, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge allowed Sears Holdings to hand out the bonuses after the company successfully argued that it would lose its top people if there’s nothing in their stockings this Christmas.[1]

Mary sings this song of hope into the very face of overwhelming helplessness. She also sings this song of hope in situations like this:

This week a judge in US Federal Court allowed four women with their children, who were fleeing abuse and violence yet were turned away at the US border, to re-enter the US and reapply for asylum. 

It’s in real-life situations that Mary sings her song of hope. For Mary, today is the day of hope. In the coming of Jesus, the promises of God’s compassion and justice are present in the world. Right now.

Advent is a season of hope. Hope in our lives, hope in our church, hope in our neighborhood, and hope throughout the whole world.

Our thanks to Bishop Jim Gonia for being here for this 4th week of Advent hope, and sharing with us his reflections on God’s hope revealed in our world. In the coming of Christ, our hope is real. The world’s hope is real. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can be among those who reveal God’s hope just as it is revealed to us.

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/while-sears-executives-get-25-million-bonuses-laid-workers-struggle-n949446

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 21, 2018 in Sermon

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Luke 1:46-55 — The Magnificat and White Privilege

(My) Left half: Hear this text from the perspective of being poor, pushed aside, ignored by anyone with any influence, being helpless.

(My) Right half: Hear this text from the perspective of being rich, influential, privileged.

(Read again)

For those on (my) left, what did you hear?

God’s mercy is for those who fear him . . . God has . . . lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things.

Mary’s song, “the Magnificat,” is a song of hope, justice, the end of days when God will make all things right.

The gap between the suffering and the content will be closed. The divide between the helpless and the powerful will be bridged. When the promises of God are fully kept in the coming of the Messiah, everyone will be made equal. Everyone will have enough, and no one will have more than they need.

For those on (my) right, what did you hear?

God’s mercy is for those who fear him. . . . God has scattered the proud in the he thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones . . . . God has . . . sent the rich away empty.

The gap between the suffering and the content will be closed. The divide between the helpless and the powerful will be bridged. When the promises of God are fully kept in the coming of the Messiah, everyone will be made equal. Everyone will have enough, and no one will have more than they need.

I think that one of the reasons Christianity is hard for so many people in North America is that texts like these–which are the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ–are not heard as good news.

I am a white, middle-aged, middle-class, heterosexual male. I have virtually every privilege ever known to anyone is human history. The Magnificat, and so many other heart-and-soul themes from scripture, indicate that when God’s will is done, my privilege will change. It’s not just that the poor, and the excluded, and those without privilege will be raised up. Not according to God’s promises. It’s that the hungry will be filled and the rich will be sent away empty. The lowly will be lifted up and the proud will be scattered. Yes, the lives of the poor and disadvantaged will change for the better, but the lives of the influential and privileged will change too.

Nowhere is this great theme of scripture modeled more clearly than in the person of Jesus. In his epistle to the Philippians Paul writes that Jesus gave up the glory of heaven and came among us in the flesh. He didn’t live in glory and privilege, but in poverty. Instead of being exalted, he was killed. Soon we will celebrate his coming among us at Christmas–not being born into royalty and privilege, but in a barn, outside of a nowhere town where no one would make room for him.

We know God’s will is being done when those among us with nothing have enough. When the hungry among us are full and homeless among us sleep in a warm bed. We know God’s will is being done when those among us whose voices aren’t heard have influence.

But the other part of God’s will being done is when those of us with more than enough give away our extra. We know God’s will also is being done when those of us with plenty to eat give away the food we don’t need. We know God’s will is also being done when those of us with homes larger than we need downsize, giving away the profit. We know God’s will is also being done when those of us with influence go to bat for those who have none, even if it doesn’t seem to benefit us.

Because here’s the thing: this actually is good news for the poor and for the privileged! There is joy in Christ. There’s joy in being part of that work, that purpose. There’s joy in having enough, and there’s joy in extravagantly giving away what you have. The way of God is the way of joy. For the rich and the poor. For the proud and the lowly.

My prayer, my hope, is that all of us, regardless of our circumstances, would truly experience God’s joy down to our very souls this Advent. May our souls magnify the Lord, and our spirits rejoice in God our Savior.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Sermon

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: