Sermon preached Sunday, August 15, 2010 + Mary, Mother of Our Lord
While sitting in my Spencer St. “office” as the floors outside my office were being washed and waxed earlier this week, I pondered Mary and tried to begin this sermon. But ‘sermonating’ was distracted by many things. There was an intense conversation about Rastafarianism at the next table, the low battery icon on my dying lap-top, and by two highway workers playing games and watching video clips on an ipad… you see they were sitting at the only table with power access. Ah, Starbucks truly draws an interesting mix of people.
And there it is. My whine for the week, my confession of me being incurvatus in se, that is curved in on myself. So caught-up in selfishness, that the Gospel message, the Song of Mary, Mother of Our Lord, the very passage which frames, or is a commentary on the entire book of Luke couldn’t hold my attention. There I was rich, arrogant, mighty, powerful, and proud by global standards focused on me rather than the humble, lowly, and hungry Mary.
But at the risk of stealing a less than religious movie title… there’s something about Mary… something that pulls us into her story, something that pulls us into God’s story… and into our own as well. So we ponder this day about that something, Mary’s role and what she has to say to us today.
So what does it means to magnify the Lord… when life if full of blessings, or when it just plain stinks? Think about what it would be like if you were Mary… what would you say if you were: a teenager, engaged to be married, from a family living on the margins, and pregnant… but not by the guy you’re engaged to. If it were me, the song I would sing would probably not even be close to the song she sings.
Let’s face it, Mary’s situation looks sketchy at best, and if we think about it, most would see it as scandalous… you know Jerry Springer or at least Dr. Phil worthy. It doesn’t matter what era she’s living in, the facts of her circumstances place her and her unborn babies lives at risk. But regardless of my bantering, Mary bursts out in song with every fiber of her being, lifting her soul to the Lord who is merciful, magnifying the God who loves and protects God’s people, sweetly singing about the one who enters into the messiness of life as a human, and overturns the things of this world.
Mary just can’t keep the enormity of what is happening inside her. Through her song of praise known as the Magnificat, from the Latin words “My soul magnifies” from Luke, she breaks forth in song out of joy and tells the world about the good news of God acting in, through and among us. This magnification via song echoes God’s promises from Abraham through the prophets and Hebrew Scriptures, to Mary, Jesus, and the early church, to you and me here today.
But I recognize that we often are not filled with joy. The reality is that at times we struggle to relate to Mary and her song of praise given the circumstances of our lives. In those moments, there are no glimpses of God, divine encounters, angelic voices, miracles or teachings of Jesus, and the only spark we experience comes not from the Holy Spirit, but from a cigarette to occupy our hands, a cell phone that doesn’t have a word for us, or a television or computer screen that flickers with empty entertainment to fill lonely and empty hours.
At times God spoke through divine messengers, which is where we find Mary, who has just been visited by the angel Gabriel. Mary’s song echoes a song of trust and joy that the prophet Habakkuk sang long before it was fulfilled:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will exult in the God of my salvation! God, the Lord, is my strength; God makes my feet like the feet of a deer; and makes me tread upon the height!
Both Mary and the prophet’s words echoes one another: God my salvation!
In Mary’s joy we often we hear and sing her words sweetly, just as we imagine Mary. But the words of the virgin are more than bold, they are explosive, they are revolutionary! Even Martin Luther said that the Magnificat are words that comfort the lowly and terrify the rich. We will sing about this revolution, how the world is about to turn in our hymn of the day. The music, a traditional Irish tune is lilting but far from revolutionary. But listen to the words of God’s continuing action through this version of the Magnificat. Listen as Mary’s song and God’s promises echoes over time, generation to generation, and into our lives.
There really is something about Mary whose heart sings of the day God’s promised Word brings. There really is something about her song that moves those who feel the fires of God’s justice burn, to wipe away all tears. There really is something about her song that resounds that the dawn draws near and gives hope that the world is about to turn.
People of Faith, the world is about to turn… are you ready to be part of God’s story… for God to turn you through the Word… to turn us from looking inward, to looking outward? For God to turn things so upside down, that your life will see and exalt the poor, feed the poor, help the poor, remember the poor in mind, body and soul. God places the Word through Mary’s song before us this day. And I pray that it echoes, no… that it enthusiastically explodes, enveloping your hearts and hands for the sake of the world, in the Name of the Lord.