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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - How Can I Keep From Singing?

Someone told me once that under certain repressive 20th century governments, it was illegal to read the Magnificat aloud during worship, because of its power as a piece of liberation theology.

I don't know if this is true or not and I haven't ever heard it elsewhere, but I do know that the lectionary committee certainly agrees with my friend about the power of Mary's words to her cousin Elizabeth. This week, we could almost call it The Song So Nice They Chose It Twice, as it appears as the suggested reading as both the Psalm and the Gospel. You might want to check back to the advent retreat (remember November?), for more reflections in word and picture.

The brave preacher might venture into Hebrews, and talk about the sacrifice made by Mary as well as Jesus.

Or, maybe you are continuing your Advent exploration of the prophets, and the Little Town of Bethlehem as described by Micah will be your focus.

We're in the home stretch, preachers. Christmas is visible on the horizon. How will you celebrate this, the last Sunday in Advent? Let us know in the comments.

You can find links to this week's readings here.


  1. Sunday, looking at the Luke passage, a few jumbled thoughts at the moment. Playing with believing is seeing, [rather seeing is believing]. Mary sings of the things God is/will be doing – in advance of seeing it in fruition. A few weeks ago one of the younger children asked me if Jesus is really going to be born this year. Maybe the concept of Advent was a bit much for a child, still a good question to think about.
    I also like the comment about bursting into song, in the Advent retreat I think. When do we burst into song?
    Read somewhere that while we talk of God turning the world upside down, it is really being turned right side up. Not sure if I can weave that in as well or not.
    Heading toward a Christmas Day sermon looking at how babies change our lives, and will we let this one come into our lives and turn our lives upside down. or right side up! – though Christmas is over a week away, anything is possible by then.
    But before Sunday comes, 2 aged care services – final for the year and therefore about Christmas, and various meetings that seem to come in groups – O how I wish they would spread a bit more evenly.

    Fruitful thinking.

  2. probably my hardest sermon to preach each year is this weekend - we do a Longest Night service on the Saturday closest to December 21, and that is this weekend. I love the idea of the service, and I love the liturgy I have cobbled together from many sources, but preaching is a whole different matter - to acknowledge grief and loss in the midst of "holly jolly" and to make sure people realize that to NOT feel joy is ok, but to also help them move toward the light. Too much to do in one sermon. I'll be using the Magnificat and Isaiah 40 - the passages work, now I just have to do MY work.

  3. Prayers for all who preach this Sunday and esp for Mumpastor as you deal with the many pastoral concerns for those who do not feel joy this time of year.

  4. Preaching both Luke passages on Sunday. Wanting to do something with "Theotokos", which is the original Greek name of Mary, which means God-bearer.

    I also love the Meister Eckhart quote "We are all meant to be mothers of God for God is always in need of being born."

  5. Preached Mary last week since the children's pageant is this week. Talked about Mary's singing as an announcement to the world and wondered how we announce the birth of Christ to others.

    Love love love the image.

    And Purple, I was looking all over the place for that quote last Saturday. Couldn't find it, so it didn't make it into my sermon, but glad to have it now.

  6. Mary's visit to Elizabeth and the Magnificat are two of my very favorite texts, so this is a happy week for me... At The Advent Door I have art and a reflection that came from pondering how Mary and Elizabeth find a sanctuary with one another in their meeting. These courageous women challenge and invite me to ponder--in my own life, how am I finding that, and offering it to others?

    I love the title for this week's lectionary leanings...thanks for evoking that amazing song. It strikes me that the song captures what MumPastor was talking about--acknowledging that for many folks, not everything in this season (or this world) is holly jolly, but at the same time, claiming a space for hope.

    Such good thoughts already stirring here this week...I look forward to checking back to see how the pondering progresses. Blessings and breathing space to everyone as Advent 4 approaches.

  7. oh, Purple - I like that quote and had forgotten it.

    Patty - like that idea of right side up

    MumP -it's hard not to try and say it all - blessings on your preparation.

    As for me, I'm thinking of calling this one "Family Stories" and using an idea borrowed from my dad (a UCC minister too) that this song is the story that Mary most wanted to pass on to the Child in her womb. And, what are the stories we think are worth passing on?

    I have been really inspired by this sermon this week.

    And, wow. Annual report, newsletter, extra worship services, letter to national office about an administratve thing, memorial to prep = lots of extra writing today. Hope nobody else lands in the ER this week (she is fine now) cause I'll ahve to be tied to my writing desk!

  8. Jan - I'm with you. I just LOVE this scripture, and love considering how we mentor/are mentored and care for/are cared for by others. This week I have been reminded of the grace that comes from sitting with others in hard times, and what a blessing that is for ME. So, I am thinking about Elizabeth, and the joy she felt in being a place of sanctuary for Mary.

    DWG - yeah, pageant! have fun!

  9. I'm thinking about how Elizabeth recognized that this was what she was waiting for... and about how disappointed I have been with our President. That sounds kind of strange, but the promise of peace has really been haunting me lately. In Elizabeth's joy, in Mary's song they recognized that the promise from Micah - the promise of the one of peace - was being fulfilled.

    As I have heard our leaders speak, it is a sobering reminder that they are not our saviors and that true peace only comes through Christ. There is no triumphant singing after Obama's West Point speech... and while there may have been music in Oslo at the Nobel ceremony - his own speech tempered any joy and celebration.

    We sing because we believe in something that we cannot yet touch. We sing because we hope.

    more on this train of thought here

  10. I am weaving together: a) the idea that a baby is God saying the world has a future, b) the Magnificat, c) possibly some Micah, and d) Dame Julian's refrain that "all will be well, all will be well, all manner of thing be well" in the title Birth Means Future Promises

    Really it sounded like a good idea at first!

    My opening thoughts are here

  11. kate, i love your words, although i've just been "political" and dont want to push it here. but thank you for saying these things.

    I noticed I did not connect so much with Feasting On The Word - fave new go-to-every-week book - as I usually do, and when I looked I saw that all 4 authors on this text were men. This is such a heavily "woman-y" passage, that I think I noticed more than I usually would. How about you? Do you notice that you resonate more with women writers as a woman , or male writers as a man? Do you think these kind of passages are better "handled" by women than by men, or doesnt it make a difference? These are questions with no answers for me, just curious to hear what you think.

  12. We too give this Sunday over to the children, but reading the texts brought back a quite scary summer experience

  13. This is the first year I won't be preaching about mary...we are having the choir cantata. So we will read Luke, but the choir will sing the message. Last year I preached a sermon that asked us all to be theotokos (bearers of God) as well....

  14. I have to use a clip from "It's a Wonderful Life" in our "Reel to Real" series. I think I'll look at the notion of "how highly" ought a person think of themself and what that means. the magnificat up-ends our notion of who is exalted. and in the movie, the plot turns on whether George Bailey is "worth much." So that's what I'm working with. I have a couple unemployed professional types in my congregation, and I think these thoughts about "worth" are important. Thanks everybody for sharing your thoughts, a lot of good stuff here. Also, just wanted to throw this out -- the Beatles song "Let it Be" was supposedly inspired by Mary's song "Let it be with me according to your word" and one year I played part of the song as a springboard, it was very effective. Just an idea to share. Happy writing everybody!

  15. ruth - cool. cant believe i never heard that before!

  16. Sermon for
    Advent 4

    I used the Luke text last week, due to cantata this week. Anyhow, if any of it is helpful, feel free to use away. I borrowed the quote from here and copied an idea from text week and a story from Day1.
    It was a well "borrowed" sermon!
    Peace to all!

  17. It's Friday and I still don't have a sermon. It could be because of this dream. Ah well, it'll come, right? RIGHT?! ;)


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