sermons, songs, etceteras
This sermon was originally preached on December 19, 2021 at Oak Grove Lutheran Church in Richfield, MN. The live recording may be viewed here.
Scripture Texts (full texts as translated by Dr. Wilda Gafney in Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W are included at the end of the sermon):
Judges 13:2-7, Psalm 115:9-15, Luke 1:39-56
Blessed be the Lord most high who comes to us this day in spirit and fire -- not from upon a throne of glory, nor even from the mouths of righteous and practiced men, but from within the belly of a scared, unmarried teenager who’s seen some things, survived some things, and run to the cousin she knows will welcome, recognize, and celebrate the coming of God through her. Indeed, the world is about to turn on its head, just as the baby does on its way through the birth canal, to bring New Life in bloody placenta and primal pain. Oh God, Make us into ready doulas. Amen.
Today marks the fourth and final week of Advent, the last hours of the Great Waiting for God’s Arrival, when we light the fourth candle — the Candle of Peace — which is a fact I find rather funny given both our own current context of 2021 and all this time holds, as well as the scriptural and historical contexts in which Mary’s Magnificat is re-cast into the world.
I say re-cast because while it is most certainly rebellious, even dangerously so, to proclaim the toppling of empires and the humiliation of the proud, Mary’s song is not new. It is an old hymn her people have been singing for centuries, a song sung by Miriam as Israel fled the oppression of Egypt, then by Deborah and Hannah and Samson’s mother from today’s old testament reading. It is the song first sung by Abraham’s womb-slave Hagar to her God, the God who Sees, and it is the song sung again and again by Israel’s mothers to that very same God who continues to See and do justice for God’s people.(1) Indeed the gravity of Mary’s song in her particular moment in time, and ours as well, must not be missed.
But before the song, let us hear the prelude.