Advent 4 C 2021 The Music of Christmas
Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Right now, the music of Christmas is everywhere. It is on the radio. It is on TV. It is playing at HEB and Walmart. And it is even playing at office parties, and doctor’s offices, and airports, and restaurants. Yes, the sound of Christmas is everywhere.
During the week before Christmas, it seems that even if one does not believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world, or even if one does not believe that there is a God, believers and unbelievers alike are happy to sing “Away in a Manager,” or “Joy to the World,” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
I think you will agree with me when I say that there is something about these songs that bring joy and peace to our troubled hearts as we make our final preparations for Christmas.
Well, did you know that there is a lot of singing in the Gospel according to Luke? Yes, there is. When one reads the Gospel, one finds that Luke tells of the birth of Jesus with song and poetry.
Zechariah becomes a father in his old age, and he sings. Mary hears that she is going to be a mother, and she sings.
When the angels announce the birth of Jesus, the angels sing. When the shepherds see the Christ Child in the manger, the shepherds sing.
Even old man Simeon, when the Christ Child was placed in his arms, he too sings.
Everyone it seems is singing. It is no wonder then, that we too sing: “O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of thy dear Savior's birth!”
And yet, when one stops and think about it, why are we singing? If you were Mary, would you sing? Stop for a moment and contemplate upon what happened. Mary’s pregnancy was not something that she could explain or understand. And it was certainly not something that she had chosen or planned.
In fact, it put her in a bad way with Joseph, and her family, and her community. Back then, to become pregnant outside of marriage was not something to sing about or rejoice over.
Thankfully, the angel of the Lord told Mary to “fear not.” And old Simeon assured her that she would be “blessed among women” even as he explained the dark reality that this child will bring her a great deal of pain and grief.
Motherhood would not be easy for Mary. Yet, Mary sang “My heart praises the Lord, my soul is glad because of God my Savior.”
Even though Mary praises the Lord, I think we can be encouraged by the fact that the Good News of the Christ Child was first received with apprehension. When Mary heard Gabriel say to her “You will become pregnant, and give birth to a Son, and you will name Him Jesus,” her immediate response was to ask “I am a virgin. How can this be?”
Mary had every reason to question why God would choose her, an ordinary girl, who lived in a small backward location, who had no special qualifications or education. In her mind the mother of Jesus should be older, wiser, nobler, wealthier, a little more well-connected, respected and yes, honored by the community?
Mary was poor. Mary could only offer two doves at her purification rite after the birth of Jesus. She could barely offer the minimum. So, what kind of home could she give to someone as important as Jesus?
And that is a key point in our text today. For you see, it is so easy to focus on what is not right in our lives, and to focus only on the problems of the world that the message of “Joy to the World” gets lost in the doom and gloom of our lives.
And we can get so caught up in our pain, and conflict, and difficult situations that the “good tidings of great joy” does not seem real, and we ask with Mary “How can this be?”
I don’t not know about you, but I am tired of the corona virus. And I am sick of watching all the bad things that are happening in our world that are highlighted on the evening news.
But the virus does not have the last word in our lives. And all the bad things that we witness on the news does not define us. God sent His Son to show us the way of salvation. And God sent His Son for the specific purpose of saving us from our sins and to give us life.
And that is why we can take great comfort in our text today, because, even in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty in our world, we see in Mary a faith that allows her to see beyond her present circumstance and allows her to believe that through her, God’s Redeeming Activity will be accomplished.
And that is why Mary can be full of joy. And that is why Mary can sing.
Yes, there will be dark days ahead for Mary. And her joy as a mother will be mixed with pain, as it is for any mother. But life is not all Christmas carols and joy. Life is hard. And life is full of the unexpected.
Mary could sing because she was full of the Holy Spirit. And Mary could sing because she believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her.
We too can sing because we too are filled with the Holy Spirit. And we can sing because deep within us there is a mustard seed of faith. We can sing because God’s includes us in His Redeeming Activity. And we can sing, because like Mary, our spirit rejoices in God our Savior. Amen.
Let us pray: God of grace, you chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace, to be the mother of our Lord and Savior. Now fill us with your grace, that with Mary, we may rejoice in your salvation, and in all things, embrace your will. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.