FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Rev. Ron Robinson
Scripture: Luke 1:39-56
Scripture Reading: In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Reflection: This is the Sunday when we are most driven to the edge of Hope. Your birth is so near, but is not here yet fully; Don't let us miss it by looking in all the wrong places, the places where our culture wants us to look. Not in consumerism, in rejoicing over the latest gadget, in trying to buy love, in trying to force others to think and live and love and be like us. The Song of Mary, the great poem of liberation, the call to non-violence, the reminder of hope that has been with us through the centuries, these words of scripture today turn us, turn us, toward real life, real goodness, and the small ordinary everlasting touchstones of true divinity. I love journeying in Advent with the stories of Mary. For a tradition known as protestants of protestants, it is good for ecumenical Christians like us to lift up and live in the Catholic traditions of following Mary. For we find Mary is no vessel of passivity, no unmoved presence, but her peace is one that has justice as its foundation. No peace can come into our lives and our communities without a similar foundation in justice and equality and freedom.
It is in this season of Advent and Christmas that God becomes known in the story we celebrate in these weeks; and this story is rooted in what Civil Rights activist John Perkins calls the Three R's of religion, of the spiritual life. Perkins, of the Christian Community Development Association, says the Three R's are:
God relocates in the Incarnation into the womb of a single oppressed Jewish young woman named Miriam; God relocates into the village of Nazareth from whence it is said no good can come; God relocates to the powerless along the road to Bethlehem; God relocates into the life of the endangered one, the one abandoned by all except those who have been abandoned themselves. Through such relocation, God redistributes the justice and love and wisdom, all that comes through the life and ministry of Jesus and those who follow in his radical way teaching and showing how God is redistributed in God's self in acts of compassion especially toward those who don't act compassionately toward us. Through relocation and redistribution we open the way toward reconciliation among us and between peoples who have been divided and between us and God.
Or we can rest in the understanding of our reconciliation with God, and such an understanding will move us toward a commitment to redistributing our time and talents and treasure for justice, and such a commitment will lead us into relocating to live with and be among the poor and homeless and the fearful wherever they might be. Either way, the 3Rs of the spiritual life can be shaped by the story we celebrate these days.
Prayer: O Life that Liberates through Love, that is reconciling the world forever, You are our Hope; let us be your witnesses to the hopeless; let us through them be reconciled with You; in all our fearful and despondent waiting on things to change in our life and community, give us both the perspective you gave to Job and also the vision of the mustard seed, the calling to live in You by living day by day and hour by hour as You have shown us through the lives of all those who have been witnesses to us, all those known by the world and those known only by us and You. Make each day of ours be a day given over to joy of justice-creating; and may we be so full of You that we can't help but seek You in the mercy we receive and share. In Christ, Amen.
December 20, 2009