Sunday, December 16
Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:47-55
Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:47-55
One of my favorite themes in preaching is that Christianity is an upside down religion. For example, when it comes election time, we're not supposed to ask ourselves if we are better off than we were four years ago, we're supposed to ask if our neighbor is better of than they were before. On Mothers Day, we remember that we need to consider those for whom Mother's Day is a day of sadness, and not of joy. For Independence Day, we are challenged to consider and care for those who are not independent.
Christmas is not for the victorious, it is for the struggling. This is the Christmas Spirit. Christmas is not a harvest festival, it is a proclamation of hope in a dry land. Christmas is not a celebration of victory, it is the shout of hurrah that we have finally gotten on our way.
Mary was not the triumphant mother of God, she was an unwed girl whose pregnancy gave her future husband and her family every reason to turn her out to fend for herself. She was poor, living in a nation that was controlled by a foreign country, and a young woman, the least of the least. She has been told that she will give birth to the child who will change all of that. Not just for her, but for the world.
And the first sign of that changes comes when she visits her cousin Elizabeth and confirms what the angel has told her, that her cousin who was thought to be beyond her childbearing years is indeed pregnant. Her cousin, who, because she was childless, was is in fact blessed by God. She goes from scorn to fertility. And so Mary sings this song that we call The Magnificat, and it is a song about justice for all people.
This message about Christmas being for the needy and not for the victors is good news. Because there isn't a single one of us who doesn't need it. There isn't a single one of us who is left out. We are called to give. We are called to receive. This isn't something else to do during Advent and Christmas. This is THE thing to do to honor Advent and keep Christmas holy.
Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about. What are your thoughts for this week?
And even though the annunciation isn’t included in this week’s readings, I’m going to use the Magnificat as my excuse to include this:
Annunciation, by Stephen Mitchell
He tiptoes into the room almost as if he were an intruder.
Then kneels, soundlessly.
His white robe arranges itself.
His breath slows.
His muscles relax.
The lily in his hand tilts gradually backward
and comes to rest against his right shoulder.
She is sitting near the window, doing nothing,
unaware of his presence.
How beautiful she is.
He gazes at her as a man might gaze at his beloved wife sleeping beside him, with all the concerns of the day gone and her face as pure and luminous as a child's a nothing now binding them together but the sound of her breathing.
Ah: wasn't there something he was supposed to say?
He feels the whisper far back in his mind, like a mild breeze.
Yes, yes, he will remember the message, in a little while.
In a few more minutes.
But not just now.
(The Gospels In Our Image: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry Based on Biblical Texts. David Curzon, Editor. Harcourt & Brace, 1995.)