Advent - Week 4: "A Song for People Who Can't Sing"

Advent - A Season of Expectation, but also of Readiness

The texts we have been studying for the past few weeks will help us prepare for the change and transformation in the world we all long for.

Today, we will be learning what it means to have hopeful expectations in the season of Advent.

And we’ll be reading from a song from Mary, the mother of Jesus, about God’s plan to turn the world upside down.

The historic Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Advent as a day when everything is turned upside down.  The proud are made low, the fortunes of the poor are lifted--and all of this comes from the passage of Scripture that we'll be reading shortly from the Gospel of Luke.  

The idea behind this celebration was simple: Through Jesus, God turned the world upside down.  The old order is no more.  There is equity at last.  There is now justice, mercy, and peace for those on the wrong end. 

For those who resist the kingdom of God in favor of the kingdom of this world--there will be judgment and a reversal of fortune.  

In the words of the classic rock band, the Kinks, "It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world."  

The reversal of fortune celebrated during the Fourth Sunday of Advent symbolized how things ought to be--those on the outside are now on the inside.  And all because God's great love turns everything upside down.  

What are your expectations during this Season of Advent? How are we waiting for the coming of Christmas?

Weariness, Excitement, Dread, Sadness...

The reality we choose to embrace is always the one that feels most real.

The passage of Scripture we will be reading today is called the Magnificat, or the Song of Mary.  

It's a song for people who feel they can't sing.  A song that proclaims a new world even though that new world has not yet arrived. 


Before we read Luke 1:46-55, let me give you some background on who is singing and why. 

Mary sings this song after she hears from the angel Gabriel that she will be the mother of God incarnate, which prompts her to go and meet with her cousin Elizabeth, who happens to be pregnant.  

Now Elizabeth is also pregnant by way of a miracle because she and her husband Zechariah were too old to have children--but as you recall from a couple of weeks ago, that all changed when Zechariah (who was a priest) encountered Gabriel in the Holy of Holies when he was serving there.  Gabriel told Zechariah that he and his wife would have a son and that his son would be the herald of the coming Messiah.  

It is likely that Mary knew about Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy and wanted to seek her advice or just have someone to share her own news with--someone who would actually believe her. 

When Mary arrives to see Elizabeth, the baby John the Baptist leaps inside his mother's womb, and Elizabeth actually breaks into her own song as she realizes that Mary is carrying the Messiah---and her child is responding to the Lord, for whom he is to be the herald and messenger.  

I think guys might have a harder time understanding this than women would--particularly women who've been pregnant and experienced the weird moments when their babies would go crazy inside the womb.  

I love this little moment.  It personalizes the great, big cosmic love story that God is writing.  The world is about to be transformed, everything is about to be set into motion to bring the kingdom of God to earth---and we get to see how that affects individual lives in incredible ways. 

Statue at Ein Karem

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,

The Greek word for humbled is tapeinosin, which literally means humiliation but can also mean oppression, exploitation, and misery. 

49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mary's "yes" has turned the world upside down---a great reversal.  

It also means saying no to the things that keep the Kingdom at bay.  

Mary sings a song for people who feel like they can’t sing—it gives us a glimpse of what it means that the Messiah is arriving...

How Do We Live Into This Hope?

1. It’s about saying “yes” to hope and saying “no” to despair

2. When we speak, we make meaning—it’s the beginning of change.

3. If we learn to imagine Advent as a present reality—reversal happens.



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