Thursday, August 16, 2018

Love and Joy of Mary is Ours - Luke 1

Love and Joy of Mary is Ours
Tony E Dillon Hansen
20 December 2017

A Sermon based upon Isaiah 61: 1-4,8-11; Psalm 126; John 13: 34-35, Luke 1:46-55

Will you pray with me?  Let God guide our senses, our hearts and our ears to receive the lessons given to us.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.

And All God’s Children Say:
Amen!

I can remember growing up thinking the last week of Advent was kind of like the last leg of the race.
We are almost there and you can almost taste the Christmas ham and an oyster stew
And presents!!
As life moves, the perspective changes a little bit
The hustle and bustle begins to wear on us and may even cause unnecessary anxieties.
For some, as we draw closer to the holiday, memories of loss, loneliness 
or even shame may creep into our senses.

From Hope, we let go of Anxiety by being hope.
From Peace, we let go of violence by letting peace be in our hearts.

Today, we have an illustration of love and joy wrapped …
in a person named Mary.

You see, from before the birth of Jesus, 
our Gospel in Luke likes to give us an approach to God that is different from Scriptures past.  The Gospel of Luke likes to remind us that “transformation takes precedence over tradition.” (Wright, 2011). 

We have distinct ways here, 
1) in a historically male-dominated society, Luke lets Mary reveal her praise (aka Magnificat), 
2) She invokes a praise similar to one from our good lady, Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-11), and 
3) Mary is not royalty or a prophet.  

She can probably barely afford the clothes on her back. 
She is a lowly peasant woman that likely lives in midst of disgrace from family and friends for a pregnancy out of wedlock. 
Her mind is probably bouncing between thoughts of 
the gift of having little footsteps 
while questioning how can she possibly raise the Child in these conditions.  

You see her story everywhere today. 
Like Mary, 
families face parenthood (whether as a single or couple)
with strong and mixed emotions.

She does not know the future of her Child, 
but she knows greatness comes with a cost.
Thus, a child of prodigy, 
(and Gospel of Matthew likes to list lineage) … 

This Child, is guaranteed to face immense challenges. 
She may even foresee joys that will happen to Jesus 
with a rise to fame, only to be rejected, shamed and executed. 

Still, Mary is hopeful because, in her heart, 
she knows that the baby is destined for greatness. 

In this canticle, 
she embodies optimism, 
turns to hope and to peace. 
She gives room for God. 

Then She pours out her love and immense joy 
that she is blessed with a Child of God.

She renews her faith and reminds us that
God’s love and compassion is not just for the rich and royalty, as in Scripture past, 
but God surely is the one for the lowly and the hungry.

She calls upon the covenant with powerful praise. 

Her role in the part of this Holy story 
beyond the glorious birth of her Child.  
is scarcely written.

Yet, we see the evidence of her work-- 
That her love and joy impact the coming ministry.

Decades later, 
When Jesus calls out injustices by leaders 
And call us to love one another - genuinely
(and not just for those with money or goofy rhetorical phrases.)

When Jesus speaks of God’s commandment that “you love one another”, 
(no exceptions)
 – we may witness an echo of Mary’s words to a youthful Jesus
and a response to experiences with injustice during that youth. 

You see, Mary and her family had some difficult experiences.
Remember, no one wanted to give them quarters in Bethlehem. 

That family experienced discrimination,
being a hunted refugee to Egypt, 
and being on society’s fringes.

Yet, Mary’s pouring out love shines through
because there were people 
willing to help them (on society’s fringes)
when tradition and government failed them. 

Thus, you can see that experience in youth play out
As part of Jesus’s ministry where, 
“transcendence takes precedence over tradition”
because while “tradition may exclude, Jesus teaches to include.”
You belong in community with love and joy. 

Perhaps, we witness echoes of Mary’s same love and joy 
here today in this house of worship.
We have a saying in the UCC that 
“No matter who you are
or where you are on life’s journey,
You are always welcome here!”
Every person is to be treated with dignity and authentic love. 
When you love one another,
You matter.
That is the community where Mary and Jesus lived 
and is here today.

God is present here and working in our midst --just as with Mary.
For us here, our love and joys are founded in those poured out to a Child,
From her Love, we learn how to love one another genuine
From her Joy, we learn that hope, peace, and love are possible.

So when you are snuggling up next to friends and family 
with your meals of great tastes and smells, 
and despite worries and fear,
take a lesson from Mary,
Be hope and peace
remember to make room for love and joy.

When we meet the Great Spirit in our hearts, 
we can welcome the Christmas season 
full of hope, immense peace, and hearts of love. 
Let your mouths be filled with laughter and … shout with joy!

Thanks Be to God!
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