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      2 things about Mary

      4th Advent Sermon December 19, 2021 by Sebastian Meadows-Helmer
      Filed Under:
      Pr. Sebastian

      Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father, 

      and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

      Mary went with haste to a town in the hill country

      to visit her aunt Elizabeth.

      Well actually we don’t Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt,

      we just know she was a relative,

      but Elizabeth was really old, 

      and her having a baby was a miracle,

      so she was probably a generation apart from the young girl Mary.

      It was a miracle for Elizabeth in her advanced age to get pregnant,

      but the real miracle of the story

      is that Mary believes the promise and prophecy of the angel.

      Unlike Zechariah, who also received an angels’ message 

      but could not believe.

      Mary said “So be it, Lord”!

      What Obedience!!

      What trust that Mary exhibited!

      What faith!

      “The author of Hebrews defines faith as 

      an “assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen” 

      Mary is someone who possesses that kind of faith. 

      A trusting faith.

      It is that kind of faith to which God calls us.”

      Mary is a true role model of faith for us Christians.

      While Roman Catholic veneration of Mary may be a bit much for my taste,

      esp. the part about asking Mary to intercede with Jesus for us, 

      but I think we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      Remember, we wouldn’t have Jesus without Mary!

      At least one Sunday a year we can put Mary on a pedestal,

      and admire her for her exemplary behaviour,

      her faithful obedience,

      and for her song, so powerful and unsettling, 

      even today.

      Mary went with haste to a town in the hill country

      to visit her aunt Elizabeth.

      This is actually more unusual than it seems.

      At the time, unmarried pregnant women would normally 

      have been cloistered, 

      that is, stuck at home, in seclusion.

      It’s unusual that Mary goes on a long journey by herself!

      But Mary goes to visit Elizabeth,

      and Jesus, in utero, visits John the Baptist, 

      also in his mother’s womb.

      What a peculiar description!

      John, “preparing the way of the Lord”

      leaping in his mother’s womb, 

      greets the one whom he is not worthy to tie the sandal.

      And Elizabeth proclaims that most famous of Catholic Prayers,

      the Ave Maria, the Hail Mary:

      Mary, among all the women on earth, you are the most blessed one~

      In Society those days, a woman’s status depended on having children, 

      and the more important your children were, 

      then the more important that woman’s status was.

      -so Mary’s child would be great,

      thus Mary was blessed and would be called great.

      And that came to pass!

      It was an honor for Mary to be the mother of Jesus

      but it also brought pain and suffering too

      she would see her son die on a cross.

      “a sword would pierce her heart”.

      …A candle in a box is useless, but take it out, light it and the warmth spreads…

      Mary is like this candle; she got lit up by God, and gave warmth to Elizabeth.

      We are useless if we stay in the box.

      We need to let ourselves be taken out, lit on fire, and share love, laughter and good news. Light is contagious: pass it on!

      And so Mary breaks out into song,

      perhaps the most famous Christian song ever.

      the Magnificat

      named after the first four words in Latin

      Magnificat anima mea dominus

      In Latin, Magnificat means magnifies.


      My soul magnifies the Lord

      For the Lord has looked with favour on his lowly servant.

      the Mighty One has done great things for me,

      his mercy extends forever.

      God shows mercy and love to all.

      Therefore we must praise God

      now and always.

      And then comes the great Reversal

      God has scattered the proud

      and brought down the powerful from their thrones

      meanwhile, he lifted up the lowly,

      filled the hungry with good things

      and sent the rich away empty.

      Things are turned upside down in God’s Kingdom.

      The high and mighty are humiliated,

      and those at the bottom are raised up and celebrated.

      We see here that it is

      The lowly and the hungry that need saving the most.

      The refugees, the outcasts and marginalized,

      those underrepresented on media, political parties, prime-time TV.

      God has a soft spot for those on the margins,

      unwed pregnant girls like Mary,

      scrawny childish boys, like David,

      cunning second-born thieves like Jacob,

      refugees in a temporary housing, 

      because there is no place in the inn.

      All right and good and we know we have to help the poor,

      but we can’t be too smug, too self-satisfied and complacent, 

      just based on our year-end charitable tax return figure.

      “The more comfortable we are, the less needy we feel. 

      The more affluent we are, the more likely 

      that we will look for happiness in some new possession or experience. 

      The more successful we are, 

      the more likely that we will celebrate our achievement instead of seeking God’s help”

      Godly reversals like we hear of in Mary’s song 

      are not good news for the wealthy and powerful.

      I recently visited a website called “How Rich am I? you punch in your salary and your family status

      and it tells you how rich you are 

      in comparison to the rest of the almost 8 billion people on the planet. 

      (It told me that I was in the richest 5.6% of the global population .

      and I don’t particularly think of myself as rich,

      but in comparison to the average person on the planet,

      oh yes I am.)

      Frightening, sobering:

      We may be the ones in danger of being brought down

       from our comfortable perch,

      are we the ones God will bring down from our thrones?

      We can’t be smug and too certain of ourselves,

      we need to be sensitive to the needs of the lowly, the hungry, 

      the homeless, the disenfranchised, the prisoner, even or perhaps especially in the midst of a new pandemic wave.

      God came to a poor young girl in the backwoods colony of Judea,

      not in the palaces of power.

      We’d better watch out!

      God calls unlikely people

      like you and me

      not Kings and Prime Ministers

      but ordinary folk to do God’s will.

      He takes ordinary people out of their boxes,

      and lights them on fire,

      so they can bring light and warmth to others.

      Listen to God, be quiet 

      (at least I hope you have a little time for quiet next week)

      and like Mary, do your best to believe, trust and obey God.

      God’s promises are true.

      let us make a home for God’s will in our hearts

      and praise God.

      for if we are obedient to God’s call: 

      God will bless us and make us a blessing for others.


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