My Dear Parishioners
What would make you celebrate wildly, without inhibition? Perhaps it would be the news that someone close to you who’d been very sick was getting better and would soon be home. Perhaps it would be news that your country had escaped from tyranny and oppression, and could look forward to a new time of freedom and prosperity. Perhaps it would be seeing that the floods which had threatened your home were going down again. Perhaps it would be the message that all your money or business worries, had been sorted out and you could relax. Perhaps it would the telephone call to the job you’d always longed for. Whatever it might be, you’d do things you normally wouldn’t. You might dance round and round with a friend, or you might telephone everyone you knew and share the news with them or invite them to a party. And if you lived in any kind of culture where rhythm and beat mattered, you might sing a song, clap your hands or stump on the ground.
In our Gospel reading from St. Luke chp 1, we read of Mary’s song often called the Magnificat. It’s one of the most famous songs in Christianity. It has been whispered in monasteries, chanted in Cathedrals, recited in small remote churches by evening candle light, and set to music with trumpets and kettledrums by Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s the gospel before the gospel, a bright shout of triumph and praise thirty weeks before Bethlehem, thirty years before Calvary and Easter. It’s all about God, and it’s all about revolution. It’s all about Jesus also– Jesus who had only just been conceived, not yet born, but who has made Elizabeth’s baby leap for joy in her womb and has made Mary giddy with excitement and hope.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is a wonderful human portrait of the older woman, pregnant at last after hope had gone, and the younger one, pregnant far sooner than she had expected. That might have been a moment of tension: Mary might have felt proud, Elizabeth perhaps resentful, but nothing like that happened. Instead, the intimate details: John, three months before his birth, leaping in the whom at Mary’s voice; and the Holy Spirit carrying Elizabeth into shouted praise and Mary into song. Underneath it all is a celebration of God. A God who has taken the initiative -God the Lord, the Saviour, the Powerful One, the Holy and Faithful One. God is the ultimate reason to celebrate. We also celebrate because Jesus came to scatter the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, to bring down the powerful from their thrones, while lifting up the humble, to fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich away empty. Jesus did indeed bring the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.
With all good wishes Rev. Chris Archibald