Pastor Kathy Escobar says that when hope is running low, sometimes the best thing we can do is borrow hope from one another. In the Magnificat, Mary provides more than enough hope for us all to borrow, offered in the assured promise of who Christ is and will be.
The paradox of Advent is that even in the darkness, there is a light. Even in our brokenness, there is healing. Even in our weariness, there is rest. The Advent promise is that the gift of God comes to offer light in the midst of our weary world.
There’s power in memory. Mark uses the power of memory in the opening of his Gospel to frame the coming of Christ through the remembrance of God’s saving acts in the history of Israel. Though not all memories are uplifting, the beauty of Advent is the promise that God sends Christ to offer healing and peace into the brokenness and strife.
After a year that presented a plethora of challenges, it may be our desire to skip Advent and dive straight into Christmas. But not so fast! The good news of Emmanuel, God with us, is that we don’t have to skip the weariness and brokenness, or act as if everything is ok. The good news is that God meets us in the darkness. This is Advent.
The celebration of Christmas is not just about the hope and promise that the world will be made whole. It’s not just about God coming so “everyone else” can receive new life. Christmas is about acknowledging the brokenness in your own life, and the promise of God in Christ to make you whole, to give you hope, to give you new life.
Why do people say politics and religion shouldn’t mix? Even our favorite Christmas hymns mix politics into the birth story of Christ. Proclaiming God’s gift of peace in Christ is politically motivating, and it calls us to a greater understanding of the joy we proclaim when we sing, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”
The promise and invitation of the Magnificat is to trust in the promise of God that is proclaimed in the birth of Christ. It is a song that declares that in the Incarnation, God is humbling the proud, and lifting up the lowly; God is supporting the weak, and weakening the strong; God is breaking down barriers, and building up community. And the Word In-Fleshed comes to invite us to participate in this, God’s work.
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
“Mary Did you Know” is a horrible song, which assumes that this pre-teen unwed pregnant female couldn’t have possible been intelligent enough to know about the child she carried. But in her own words, Mary makes clear, she knows the goodness of God that will come from the baby boy, who will one day save the nations.
Max (the dog) and Joseph have a similar reaction to the invitation to be involved, a strong and resounding “no.” But when Immanuel, God with us, invades the messiness of our lives, our response quickly becomes one of faithfulness, not fear.