Advent is, of course, all about anticipating the
birth of Christ. It is a time of preparation, contemplation,
But really, it is about so much more than that. It is worth remembering that Advent is also a time to appreciate the radical nature of Christ’s coming into the world both personally and socially.
That radical nature of Advent is found in “The Song of Mary” or “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55). It is a text that can act as a strong antidote to the commercialism of this time of year.
It is called the Magificat because Mary begins by
saying: “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” or “My soul
magnifies the Lord…” What follows is her response
Elizabeth’s recognition that she is carrying a holy child,
fulfilling what the angel Gabriel called her to do.
This “song” is not just about how great it is that Christmas is coming. It is an affirmation of what God’s dream for humanity—a reorganization of society:
“God has shown strength with his arm and scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.”
God was about to come into the world as the son of an unwed, teenage peasant girl. Her response? “God has looked with favor on the lowliness of God’s servant.” Any apprehensions that she surely must have had were overcome by the excitement of God coming into the world to turn things upside down.
God is still in the business of turning things upside down. This is mostly because humanity has an ugly habit of turning things back the other way (downside up) once God is finished flipping things. Injustice is an ongoing conundrum for God’s children despite the blueprint offered us in the conditions of Christ’s birth and in the Magificat itself.
This Advent season, may we recover an excitement of what is possible when we truly allow God to be born into our hurting, warring world. May we feel an impending hope for a new tomorrow in which social harmony is more than a pipedream and is instead a vision of who we can be as we stand poised on the threshold of a New Year.
This Advent season, may you discover how you can “magnify God” in your life and be part of what God is creating out of our as-yet-unlived tomorrows.
I believe that starts by asking what Christianity would look like if our focus was more on birth than death, flourishing instead of suffering, and this world instead of the next.
“The Mighty one has done (and will do) great things for us and Holy is God’s name”!
See you in church,
December 1, 2017