Grace and Peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
After a few weeks of waiting and preparations we are getting ever closer to Christmas. In just a few short days we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve. In the meantime, many of us may still be running around to make sure that everything is all set for the coming days. Are the baked goods and the food ready for the family gathering? Are all of the presents purchased and wrapped? Do we have any last minute preparations that must be made? We hurry and rush around to get these items off our do to list, sometimes at the expense of just truly being in the season. There is definitely a busyness in the air during this season, kind of like Bing Crosby’s song, Silver Bells:
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you hear
Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Hear them ring, (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day
Possibly, Mary could relate to our rushing around as we do today. We find out right away that she set out with haste to visit Elizabeth. Is the haste that she is moving about similar to ours as we feel the rush of time and perceive that we must accomplish a lot before we can settle down and relax? She is expecting a child, and there must be a lot that needs to be accomplished before she is to give birth. I know of mothers and fathers that rush around to get their child’s nursery around. Yet, I don’t think this is the concern that weighs on Mary. Perhaps she is starting to become fearful of what is to come.
Mary does say to the angel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” In this declaration she seems to be fine with what is happening. Just maybe though the realization struck her that she is unwed and soon to be mother. Oh, how society is going to look down upon her and possibly punish her for her supposed wrong doing.
Perhaps, she is truly excited to be with her relative Elizabeth and would like to see how well she is doing, since she too is carrying a child in her womb. Mary finds this out from the angel Gabriel and she has yet to congratulate Elizabeth. It was also quite common for a relative to come and stay with someone that is pregnant to help them out and to see that they have everything they need. Mary ends up staying with Elizabeth for three months until the time John is born.
I like to think that she went to see Elizabeth in haste because of the excitement that was built up within her from what was happening in her own life as well as her joy for Elizabeth, who previously thought that she could not have a baby. This excitement and joy overflows in the words of Mary’s Magnificat, or Song of Praise. There is something about music and singing that pulls us into the moment. It sets a tone for whatever it is that we are doing. It can even help guide and direct our lives as we grow.
Music can speak to people in many different ways. People are moved by many different forms of music. My music collection on my phone is quite eclectic. I recall the first concert that I ever went to was a Beach Boys concert and to this day I still love the Beach Boys. If you come into my office during the week you will quite often hear some form of classical or possibly even blues playing. For me, this is great music that allows me to think clearer as I am reading or doing sermon preparation.
My families favorite music group right now is Fall Out Boy. I also am drawn in by the deep smooth lyrics of Adele as well as the varied talents of Coldplay and I cannot forget about my favorite band of all time, U2. All of you, I am sure, can name off your own list of favorite musicians and bands that have touched you in one way or another throughout your life.
One of the songs that truly connected me to Christ is I Can Only Imagine, by Mercy Me. The lyrics of many of our songs and hymns speak to us in various ways. No matter what though, I believe that music is essential to the human experience as we share with one another.
I think that Luke must have felt pretty similar. Just in the first couple of chapters of Luke we have four different occurrences of people singing their praises to God and giving thanks. Mary’s Song of Praise fills the household of Elizabeth with joy and great proclamation. Not only does she give thanks to God for what has been bestowed upon her, she also sings of God’s great mercies and the wonderful things that God has done. Her song is reminiscent of the one that is sung by Hannah in her prayer for her son Samuel.
When Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit after John’s naming he too sings with joy. The angels also sing at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” Simeon lifts ups his voice to the Lord when Jesus is presented in the temple, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
To sing, no matter how good or bad you think you are, brings a stillness to one’s being. It is a calm amidst the storms. It is joy amidst the tears. It I can reflect the light that can overcome the darkness.
Our closing hymn today is Mary’s Song of Praise, taken directly from Holden Evening Prayer, by Marty Haugen. As we live out the week to come and continue our preparation and settle in for Christmas let us live out the song of Mary in our own lives. May our soul magnify the Lord, and our spirit rejoice in God our Savior. May song fill our lives with the Spirit and Joy in the days to come.