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Magnificat Anima Mea

Advent 3, Common Lectionary Year A

Luke 1:46-55

© Rev. Elisabeth R. Jones

This is not the sermon I planned back in October
when I began to read and think and dream
and pray and plan for this Advent season!!!….

I imagined that today we would sit with Mary,
her enigmatic presence,
her elusive absence.
I hoped we could enter – spiritually at least –
into her pregnant state;
that embodied expectancy,
that waiting for the unknowable known.
I wanted, as preacher, to sanctify somehow this Waiting Season with
Mary’s pensive knowing, her choice that every pregnant mother knows,
vacillating between the “I can’t wait to see this child”
and the wiser course:
“Stay there little one until your time is right..
grow, become strong before you emerge!
Take your time!”

But that was October, and this is now.
Since October, the world has darkened.
While we sit north of a border,
we know that the world has turned, and not in a good way,
as the ugly faces of misogyny, racism, totalitarianism
seep like an oil spill into our own communities,
local and national.

We sit here as a worshipping community,
grateful for our relative health,
for our lively programming,
but we too can see all around us
the lengthening shadows of a waning Christianity
or worse, the ugly deformation of it.
We hold on here to our belief that
God’s great Dreams are leading forward in faith;
But in this December darkness, we begin to sense the cost,
and it’s worrisome.
We worry about how to keep all this together,
building, and people, body and soul,
all of us with our private burdens,
and not so private burdens,
and our human shortcomings,
and our outright failures to be people of grace.
And yet God is still calling us,
to be this life-giving light-bearing difference….
to one another, and to neighbours, strangers,
and even to a family from Syria
whose world has not merely turned,
but been shattered.

Who are we to think this
light in darkness thing is easy? Or even possible?
That God should call such ordinary people like us,
and think we can do it?

If I peer into this Advent lectionary
in search of a placid Mary,
sitting still, shaded,
silent-dark- blue-before- the- dawn with Buddha-like calm,
her belly expanding smoothly to contain
eternity to a pregnant term of earthliness,
I cannot find her! She is beyond me!

But God be thanked for this Lively Word,
because, she’s actually not that still.
Calm is not the key signature for her song.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum!
“My soul magnifies…”
“My soul exults, rejoices, delights….
I cannot be still!” She sings!
“My being cannot be contained!
Because God has….!”

In our Midrash study groups this week
we expressed our difficulty in believing
that a young woman, a girl really,
who finds herself dubiously pregnant,
in a world where a woman’s right to her body
was severely constrained – may we never go there again!
that she would open her mouth and her first world would be
“Magnificat!”
Joy. Exultation.

This magnitude,
this expansiveness of vision
the worldliness of her concern,
this massive geopolitical agenda resolved on behalf of the poor,
erupting from her lips
in the light soprano of a pregnant teenager
seems so incongruous,
and frankly, incredible.

It’s the same faithful folly we sang in Isaiah’s
minor to major promise of
“joy coming even to the wilderness.”

Listen to them both!
The desert will bloom,
crocuses will trumpet God’s glory,
the lowly will be lifted,
and the mighty brought down from their thrones,
the exile will return home,
the refugee will rebuild their shattered dreams,
the hungry will be filled with feasting!

The greatness,
the magnitude
of their awesome folly
is that it’s
all true!

Mary sings because God has….
Her soul explodes in joy
like a crocus blooming in the desert because
“God has….!”

And she’s right!
God has lifted the lowly before, and God will again.
Magnificat!
God has brought home the lonely before, not once, not twice,
but three times, more… and God will again.
Magnificat!
God has brought down the mighty before,
and God will again.
Magnificat!
God’s strength and mercy have been poured
on those in need before,
and God will again.
Magnificat!
God has brought life where death once reigned before,
and God will again.
Magnificat!
God has birthed newness, mercy and forgiveness before,
and God will again.
Magnificat!
God has…..and God will again.

She had to sing so loud this week for me to hear her!
Do we believe her?
Can we hear it?
Dare we sing it?

Well goshdarn it, I’m going to try!

Magnificat! Joy in the wilderness,
– a bag of baby clothes will be taken to the Refugee Detention Centre: clothes that have been passed through the baby boys of this congregation, will now clothe a tiny 4 month old refugee child awaiting asylum.

Magnificat, joy in the wilderness,
because sickness has been soothed, and grief enfolded by our Prayer shawls.
Who knew ordinary yarn, two sticks could turn someone’s pain to joy? Huh!

Magnificat, joy in the wilderness,
as this Church and its choir tonight will sing sanctuary for a Muslim family, as we sing of Mary’s Christ Child, born in a darkened hostile world, no worse, no better than this one.

Magnificat, joy in the wilderness
as 110 people (not that we’re counting) from as far away as Ukraine and Egypt, S. Jerome and S. Hubert, share a feast of food and care and community,here on Friday Night.

Magnificat, Joy in the Wilderness,
as our children face into the darkness with their own Magnificat, a song of joy,proclaiming to a world, that they are unstoppable! *(ref to the KidZone song “Kids are Unstoppable”

Magnificat! My soul exults because,
God has,
and God will again!

There is no waiting stillness in Mary’s Song!
Instead there is a ferment,
a resilient, joy!
A bubbling forth of artesian water
hidden underground,
finding its way, seeking out the lowest ground
because that’s where it’s most needed,
where it will burst forth with joyful conviction
that God has….
and God will again!

Through a pregnant girl,
who sang on the edge of disaster,
and bids us sing,
a hard-wrought, defiant,
song against the fear, the fright, the darkness,
the wilderness, the ugliness that grips our world.

“My soul is overflowing with joy,
Because God has, and will again,
and again, lift up the lowly,
God has and will again do great things”

Through her.
Through our unstoppable kids,
Through our one family given sanctuary and hope,
Through this community forged with care, grace, and forgiveness,
Through me, and through each one of you.

Magnificat!
God has!
And God will again!

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