In case you missed it, this advent we have been talking about being present – receiving (Jesus’) presence and being present (to others).
So how are we doing so far? Has our walk through advent and pre-christmas stories inspired you to be BE PRESENT to others as God has made himself present to us? With your neighbour, your spouse, your friends, co-worker, child, parent, etc?
Here’s the phrase we hope is sinking in: This Christmas, try being present over perfect. Appreciate where you are instead of wishing you were somewhere else. Be grateful for what you have and stop wishing for what you don’t have. Do what it takes to be present to others, as Jesus has made himself present to us.
We’ve purposely walked through scripture that reminds us of just how amazing and real Jesus’ arrival to earth was and is.
– Matthew 1 (Jesus’ genealogy reminds us that God‘s plans are bigger than any mess you have created or any mess you’ve been dealt in life. Out of great mess comes the Messiah.)
– John 1 (WORD, became flesh, and moved into our space)
The beauty of these texts and stories is the wait, the anticipation, the longing, the ‘before’ or pre-cursers.
Today we find ourselves in another first chapter of a gospel – LUKE. We look at Mary, her reaction to the incarnation, and her role in this story.
“If the idea of incarnation doesn’t leave your mind and spirit in a semi state of shock, you aren’t yet getting “Advent.” (you aren’t getting Christmas)
How do you react to good news?
- Little things (like Kijiji sales)
- Bigger things (great conversations and meaningful time with people)
- BIG things (a situation that turned from bad to good or to even great)
This is what we find in Luke 1…Mary’s Song…Mary’s Magnificat…Mary’s burst of JOY. She, with the rest of her people (Israel) had been waiting for something to change, to shift, to turn, to be realized and restored. They believed deeply that God would lead them, provide for them, send a Saviour, be their leader, ruler, KING.
Jesus was it.
Not only was that about to happen…BUT…God used Mary to make it happen.
Luke 1 is about:
– John the Baptist’s birth foretold
– Jesus’ birth foretold
– Mary visit’s Elisabeth (John the Baptist’s mom)(Read this this exchange in 1:39-45)
What follows is Mary’s song. Her burst of joy. Her poetic proclamation of what God is doing in her and through her. That line sound familiar? We pray that prayer regularly at The Village.
REACTION & REALITY (Luke 1:46-49)
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
These first few lines both show us Mary’s reaction and Mary’s reality.
Her reaction is pure joy, worship, praise, etc.
I’m sure you’ve seen joyful reactions before. The sports world has lots of them to choose from.
- Toronto FC’s first championship win came a few weeks ago…Jose Altidore is very expressive after every goal, especially after an important one to win the championship. He goes nuts.
- Tiger Wood’s reaction to winning putts is classic and can be identified by lots of people.
- For Blue Jay fans we will never forget the Bat Flip, will we?
To more important matters…when my Dad was ill and getting worse as the weeks went on, I asked my asked him how he would react he woke up the next day being well…if God healed him? He said he’d go to all his former business partners and friends and tell them what God did for him.
This is Mary’s moment to react. And the illustrations I’ve given, especially the sports ones, pale in comparison.
The reason this song is called the Magnificat is that Mary is helping us see how BIG God is.
Some call this the gospel before the gospel.
– 30 weeks before Bethlehem
– 30 years before Calvary & Easter
– Jesus, conceived, not yet born, but the reality of the news is life and world changing
Mary’s Reaction is met with her Reality…
– Mary is a teenager
– A female
– All those stack against her
– “Humble state…”
She sees this for what it is? A Miracle. God is using her? To start the revolution and restoration of the world? She realizes what a BIG deal this is…for her…and the world.
And she continues to sing…
REDEMPTION & RESTORATION (Luke 1:50-53)
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
This song is revolutionary. It addresses some serious things: Injustice, Poverty, Brokenness, Pride, etc. It invites Revolution.
Important to note: This song was banned from India (when it was a British Colony), from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Argentina, during times when those in power wanted to dominate and come down hard on the people. They recognized this song as resistance, as protest, as words of liberation.
If you wonder why those who follow Jesus are compelled to help the poor, befriend the marginalized, sit with the suffering, welcome the refuge, be present in places of pain, struggle, evil, it’s because of what Mary sings in this song.
Advent challenges us to see that the marginal spaces in our world are indeed the center of God’s attention and activity. (Rich Villodas)
This looks back on the texts of the OT that deal with Israel’s liberation from Egypt, and looks forward to Israel’s liberation from Rome.
If you read further in Luke you will find Jesus quoting Isaiah 61. Jesus is saying that He has come to release, restore, redeem, and save – who? the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed. Luke presents Jesus as one who sides with the poor & oppressed, and reveals an idea of reversal – the reversal of unjust structures.
What can I learn from Mary?
- God will use me, no matter what others think of me.
- God’s not looking for perfection, only presence (Mary was willing & available & present)
- I have the green light to celebrate and share good news.
- And remember – it’s only good news for anybody if it’s good news for everybody
- The marginalized and poor better matter to us, because they matter to God, not as people who are less or have less, but as children in his family that need to be loved.
Q’s to think about…
Is our reaction to God’s good news equal to the magnitude of God’s redeeming action?
Do we see the fullness of Jesus’ arrival to be present to the poor, vulnerable, marginalized?
What’s your part in the story and are you present enough to see it and live it? Everyday? In the here and now?