Sunday, December 23, 2018

Reflection on Luke 1:39-55

What color would you choose to paint the nursery of the savior of the world?

I know…I know; the question is somewhat random. But, as I pondered Mary’s pregnancy, the perplexing question came to mind.

You see, when most young couples get ready for the coming of their little one, they choose a color based upon how they want to shape their child’s future. If they want their child to be peaceful, they will choose blue. If they want their child to be happy, they will choose yellow. If they want their child to care for creation, they will choose green. If they want their child to be an NBA star, they will put basketball stickers all over the walls.

You get the idea…many of you did the same thing.

So, back to my question, what color would you choose to paint the nursery of the savior of the world?

The question is actually quite perplexing because it is God shapes who we is God who shapes our lives. We most certainly do not shape God’s life. No one shapes who God is…or would dare to shape God’s Son, except maybe Mary?

Then there are the what-ifs. What if Mary lets the savior of the world roll off of the changing table? What if the savior of the world will not eat healthy foods and will only eat Mac and Cheese? What if Mary speaks too sharply to the child and the child’s life turns dark and brooding?

What I find amazing about Mary is that none of these things seem to keep her up at night. Rather, she seems to stare in wonder and amazement at the child within her growing belly. Rather than worry about how she is going to shape and mold the savior of the world, Mary stares at her belly in awe of what the Lord is already doing and will be doing in the future.

God gifts Mary with an attitude of an excited waiting and expectation for what God has in store, and this expectation causes her to sing a song.

Mary's song is a beautiful, poetic song that acknowledges the political reality of her world.

She lives in a place and a time where Rome has recently used the Syrian army to brutally crush a Jewish rebellion. She lives in a place and a time where Rome makes themselves rich through heavy taxes, breaking the backs of the poor. She lives in a place and a time where the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are getting richer, and no one in power seems to care. And, in her lowly, 14 year old belly, she carries the savior of the world who will step into all of this inequality and be Lord of all.

In the words of the Voice Bible translation, I imagine Mary singing her song as a sort of joyful and contemplative lullaby as she stares at the skin veiled child:

My soul lifts up the Lord!
My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
For though I’m God’s humble servant,
God has noticed me.
Now and forever,
I will be considered blessed by all generations.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
holy is God’s name!
From generation to generation,
God’s lovingkindness endures
for those who revere Him.
God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
The proud in mind and heart,
God has sent away in disarray.
The rulers from their high positions of power,
God has brought down low.
And those who were humble and lowly,
God has elevated with dignity.
The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
To Israel, God’s servant,
God has given help,
As promised to our ancestors,
remembering Abraham
and his descendants in mercy forever.

Mary does not worry about choosing the correct paint color because she is not going to shape the future of this child. Rather, God is going to use this child to shape our futures. Mary simply waits in expectation for that glorious day when it will all be revealed.

And, so do we.

Now, we have already seen the glory of God revealed in Jesus as preached by the scriptures.

We have seen Jesus’ love of the lowly. We have seen Jesus’ healing of the poor. We have seen Jesus’ forgiveness of the sinner. We have seen Jesus’ rebuke of the proud and the rich.

Through the scriptures, we have seen the heart of God.

Yet, we still wait.

We have seen the reality of God’s heart, but it has not yet taken firm hold in the world.

So, yes, we too wait.

Like Mary, we wait, staring with excited anticipation to see what Jesus is going to do both in our lives and in the grand movements of the world. We wait for God’s heart to be born and affect the all creation. We wait for the low to be brought up and the high to be brought down to equal footing. We wait for the ultimate healing of the nations. We wait for the arrival of peace of earth. We wait to see all of this take birth in one final victory of love over hatred, and light over darkness.

We wait.

Yet, while we wait, Mary teaches us that we can sing a song.

Just as slaves sang songs of freedom in the cotton fields of the south, awaiting the reality of liberation to come, so too we can join in Mary’s song as we seek our own much needed liberation.

We too can join in Mary’s song of raising of the lowly.

We too can join in Mary’s song of gratitude for all that the Lord has done.

We too can join in the Mary’s song of the poor eating fine meals with dignity.

We too can join in the song that God put into Mary’s heart that speaks of love and equality for all; where all humanity will feast not at separate tables, but at one, long, undivided table of the Lord.

And, when we sing the song, maybe, just maybe, God will make it hum throughout our own lives.

Maybe we will sing it under our breaths as we go about our daily lives. Maybe the tune will start to catch on wherever we go, and the heart of our Lord will start to give birth.

For, God has noticed Mary and given her a song of hope, and God has also noticed us and given us the same song.

May that song of hope resound throughout the valleys and over the mountaintops, across the grains in the fields and through the city streets. May that song of hope resound in our hearts so that we might see the glory of the Lord giving birth everywhere we go.

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