2018-12-23/Advent 4-C/Community Lutheran/Rev. Joseph Vought
It is the custom in one African tribe that when a woman decides to have a child, she goes and sits under a tree, and she listens. She listens until she hears the song of the child who wants to come. Once she hears the song, she returns to the man who will be the child’s father and teaches the song to him. When they conceive the child, they sing the song. When the woman is pregnant, she teaches the child’s song to the midwives of the village so that when the child arrives, the people can sing the song to welcome the child. Then as the child grows, the other villagers learn the song. If the child falls or hurts his knee someone picks him up and sings the song. When the child does something wonderful, the people of the village sing this song. When the child goes through the rites of puberty and becomes an adult, the villagers sing the song. It goes this way through life. At a wedding, the songs of husband and wife are sung together. Finally, when this child grows old, and lies in bed ready to die, all the villagers know the song, and they sing it for the last time. (story by Jack Kornfield)
Today two women are singing Advent songs, songs of praise to God. Mary is God’s chosen one to bring Jesus into the world. When the angel came to her and told her she would be the Mother of Jesus, she said, “Here am I the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word. Now in today’s Gospel Mary, a young pregnant girl from Nazareth, undertakes a journey to go and visit her relative Elizabeth, who also has an amazing pregnancy. She will be the mother of John the Baptist. When Mary enters the house and greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth cannot help but sing out for joy, “Hail Mary, Mother of God, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.” And then John the Baptist does a backflip in utero in Elizabeth’s womb because of Mary’s greeting. And then Mary sings her song of praise, “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior, he has looked with favor on his lowly servant the Mighty has done great things for me. He has scattered the proud in their conceit and lifted up the lowly.”
This is the way God works with un-likely servants Mary and Elizabeth to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. God works through mustard seeds and babies; people like Elizabeth and Zechariah, Abraham and Sarah, with one foot in the maternity ward and the other in the geriatric ward. Today the Blessed Virgin Mary is front and center in our Advent worship. In the fullness of time, the Word sent to a Virgin’s Womb, is born among us, to sing and proclaim Good News, to lift up the lowly, bring light to our darkness to live and die like us and then be raised up to show us the way home.
Today Elizabeth and Mary sing out their amazing songs of faith and praise to God. With Elizabeth we cry out, “Hail Mary, Mother of God, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit or your womb Jesus.” And then we wait in silence, praying that God’s Spirit may come into our lives like Mary, that we may be pregnant with hope, to bear Christ and magnify God in our own lives?
In a world of fear and darkness, where refugees seek a homeland and the hungry cry for bread we are called to be Godly people of hope like Mary and Elizabeth. To sing out God’s praises: light in the darkness, strength for the weak and God’s liberation for all those who are bowed down and oppressed.
Let us pray, O God, with the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, we wait in hope for your coming into our lives, and your holy birth within us. Set us free from our sins so that your salvation may bring hope and healing to the ends of the earth. Give us the gifts of Advent, of silence, contemplation and trust as we wait for you O Lord to open our mouths to sing our songs of praise and to be your people of Good News. Amen.