I have two sermons this morning. The first talks directly about the significance of what Mary was saying when she proclaimed the words of the Magnificat and secondly, I am going to suggest like Mary the church is pregnant with Christ and what can that mean.
Make no mistake, Mary’s song is a rebel song.
But I wonder if we can hear that. I wonder, that is, if we have heard so many beautiful renditions of Mary’s song of praise-typically called “the Magnificat” because of how it starts – that it makes it hard to hear the import, even the threat of her words.
That is why we are singing the Canticle of the Turning today. It is the Song of Mary to a contemporary tune.
Yes, it starts out with the beauty of Mary’s pronouncement that her soul magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoices in God. And it continues with an acknowledgment of how God has looked on her with favor, echoing Gabriel’s words to her.
But notice the turn it takes. God does not just look with favor on her, but rather on her lowliness. God according to Mary notices her – her station and her struggle and even more than that, takes her side.
All generations will call her blessed because God – the Mighty One of Israel – has done great things for her and we will soon discover, for all who are like Mary – poor, lowly, of little account in the world, and who trust God for their redemption — will one day experience it.
And what it is that God is doing for Mary and all the lowly of the world? Scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting up the lowly, giving to those who are hungry plenty to eat and sending the rich away with nothing.
Mary’s song reverberates with notes of justice and reversal and judgment. It is a rebel song.
Which is nothing new in the Bible. Prophets of all stripes have sung the same: that God cares for all people but has a special interest in the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable. Hannah’s song, in particular, which many feel inspired Luke’s rendition of Mary’s son, testifies to the same. The Lord, Hannah sings, “raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.” (1 Sam. 2:8)
What are we to do with these songs, these words of hope and threat, promise and judgement?
The temptation I have is to reconcile them with an acknowledgment that we also are poor, at least in spirit. That we have need, particularly for mercy and forgiveness. We are lowly when we are compared with God.
All of that is true. Yet just for now, for these few moments, let’s not try to fit ourselves into this song and imagine that Mary sang for us. Instead, let’s imagine what it would be like for those with so very little – power, wealth, privilege, hope – to hear Mary the mother of our Lord sing this rebel song of justice and hope and to know they, too, are blessed, favored, and folded into God’s promise to change the world.
It would be awesome.
Now let’s go to the second sermon. The Church is pregnant. All we who have been baptized and believe in Jesus as the Messiah of the world have been given the Christ when we were baptized. All of us who come forward to receive communion receive the living Christ every time we receive the bread, and the wine.
Each of us have been given the Christ. Each year our need to deliver the Christ becomes more and more important. It is the sacred calling of the Church to make and grow disciples of Jesus.
Last week during our congregational meeting everyone received an invitation to share with someone we know who is unchurched. Christmas Eve is a tremendous opportunity to share the good news that Christ has come to save the world from sin, the power of the Devil, and itself.
Everyone who has ever attended a church has been to a worship service on Christmas Eve has experienced the specialness of lighting the candles while singing Silent Night.
Think back to some of the special moments in your life while attending the Candlelight Service. It is amazing what happens. Each candle gives off some light, but when all of them are lit there is a powerful glow.
Like the candle of Christmas Eve, each of us are pregnant with the Christ. If each of us shares Good News with a person we know and invites them to the worship, we will have a great experience.
Last week I was asked to describe the Gospel. It is simply this. Think of a situation that is filled with the shadows of bad news. Whatever would be good news in a bad situation is Gospel.
Here it comes. Our Christmas Eve Service is Friday evening at 7 p.m. If you have already given away your brochure, get another one this morning and find someone else to invite. The same is true for those of you who missed the meeting. In the back of the church brochures are available.
Oh, the joy of inviting someone to worship and then experiencing with them the great experience. Amen.