This season of the year is filled with great music. Yes, we bemoan Christmas music blaring over shopping store speakers in October. Yet the music is in us. We can’t seem to help singing our favorite carols in the privacy of the car. Perhaps we hum a stanza or two at the office desk. This is a great time for the music of Christmas. In tune or not, we sing out unabashedly. We simply can’t help ourselves. The music is in us. All the way to our souls.
This is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The reading turns to Mary. She is singing what is the song of faith. The words aren’t about Santa, Rudolf or even Little Drummer Boys. The words are about what God has done for her and the implications for the world. These implications aren’t that God will make us great again, or that we will be powerful, or that the world will look to us in awe, or that our cultural preferences will be established as dominate over others. The song of faith Mary sung from the depths of her soul was not about what we deem of value.
Mary’s song of faith was how God had embarrassed the boastful claim of our lie filled wisdom, brought down those walking the marbled halls of power and filled the soul with what corporate tax breaks won’t satisfy. God shunned these to choose her – a young Jewish woman under Roman oppression and from a town not even worthy of a modern day stop sign. The child she would soon give birth would bring salvation which wasn’t some far off event: the day of the Lord when the reign of God is fully established. Salvation is in the here and now whenever the lies and power and wealth are also shunned for what Jesus embodied.
Mary’s song of faith was about what God has done, is currently doing and will yet accomplish in the child she was carrying. The joy empowering her lungs was that the Lord had chosen her, one of the world’s lowly to bring such a blessing.
So much great music this time of year! What song carries the faith that fills the depth of your soul? Sing it loud!
Memorial Day weekend has arrived but this doesn’t feel like much of a vacation. The death toll from Covid will be 100,000 in the next couple days. Stores are starting to reopen while others still remain closed because it isn’t worth the risk. Most people are wearing masks while a few defiantly refuse. Churches have become a major point of contention as some pastors go to court in order to have in-person worship while others are still being cautious. The summer begins with us a divided people. The times are unsettled and with this being an election year, politics will likely make the dynamics worse. So regarding the church in the midst of all of this we might ask, “What Now?” For the answer, we look to the prayer of Jesus out of the Gospel of John.
Jesus was about to be arrested as he prayed for himself and the disciples (for us). He had come to give eternal life. Eternal life was to know God and Jesus Christ whom the Father has sent. So this was his prayer for himself,
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 17:5
Jesus then prayed for us. His prayer was interesting because of what was missing. He didn’t pray for us to be powerful. He didn’t pray for us to be politically connected or to adopt the world’s ways. What he did pray for is that we know his joy that comes through our relationship with him. Jesus also prayed that we be protected because we are to be in the world but we are not of the world. The world has different meanings but one point to be stressed is that it is loved by God. Jesus was going to return to the Father but his followers were to continue in the work of letting the world know that it is loved by God. Jesus’ love won’t be known by political games or by separating into our private enclaves but only by an engagement with the world, thus the need for prayerful protection. If the world is to know eternal life, the world needs to know Jesus Christ and the One who sent him. The knowledge of Christ comes through how we reflect him in the world.
This Memorial Day weekend the world is divided and in disarray. It needs to know that it is loved. It needs to know a life that is eternal. It needs to know Jesus Christ and the Father who sent him. This is the work for the church that might be wondering, “What Now?” Remember, always remember, Jesus has prayed for you. He has prayed for you to know his joy. He prayed that you be protected in this truth.