We listened to Mary’s Magnificat this morning. That’s the first word of the Latin translation of Mary’s song in the Gospel of Luke. So I thought we’d share some stories about some of our favorite songs for the season and then sing them to welcome Mary’s child.
So how do we welcome that inner child? How do we make the child feel safe and loved? As Nicodemus pointed out in the Gospel of John, we certainly can’t climb back into our mothers’ wombs. [John 3] But we can reclaim our original connection to God if we are willing to revisit where we lost that connection. Welcoming your inner child is not so much about buying it toys as it is about revisiting trauma, which is something most of us are loathe to do. But if we want to recover our soul connection to God, we’re going to have to go back to where that connection was first severed... We have to go back and welcome that child and love that child.
Don’t let the bad news drown out the Good News. For us grownups who have all but given up, these kids show us Jesus. They still believe life is worth living, the world is worth loving, and people are worth saving. They still believe in Christmas and where Christmas is heading. We could be following these children who are following the Christ child who is leading them and the whole Creation right into God’s kingdom.
A problem for most of us is that the word “king” doesn’t have a very personal ring. Kings are far away in castles or up in the air somewhere. But think of this: “king” and “kin” come from the very same word. Jesus is all the things that Lockridge said of him. Jesus is our king. But he is also our kin. So when we embrace him, we become his brothers and sisters. And that means that we, too, are sons and daughters of God. As members of God’s royal family, we become everything that Christ is. We come to him with our humanity, and Christ fills it up with divinity. This is our dignity, our identity.
Do you remember spectrometers from physics class? They are used to separate and measure the different parts of a beam of light or to determine the chemical make-up of stars and planets. The earliest ones were simple prisms that separated ordinary white light into its rainbow-colored components. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar tool that could analyze our very complex lives and separate out all the problems and break them down into smaller, more distinguishable and more manageable pieces? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the capability of going into the disaster zone of our life and use our spiritual spectrometers to determine exactly where God is and how grace is at work?
But I’m appalled to learn that this take on the text takes this text completely out of context. As I read commentaries for this sermon, I realized that we pastors have been misusing the widow’s mite in order to beg for money. So, in an act of repentance, what I want to do today is to look more closely at the widow’s situation so we can better understand her story.
What kind of teacher would let his students go to recess before finishing their math lesson? What kind of parent would let his kid eat chocolate cake for breakfast? And what kind of pastor would let her congregation celebrate the kingdom of God before it ever got here?
My tears were prayers. God, how did we get here? And where do we go from here? If the Bible had been written by women, we might have some explicit guidance in these matters, but it wasn’t. In fact, women are little more than a footnote in the story of our faith. So we really have to do some digging. We can read the words, but we have to listen closely for the Holy Spirit. And perhaps she will whisper to us what Jesus would have to say.
And when we get to the wedding, remember that the bride and groom aren’t the only ones who make vows. We have replaced the old bit about “giving away the bride” with a new bit that asks everyone to promise that they will, by God’s grace, do everything in their power to uphold and care for this couple because they cannot hope to love each other very well or for very long without a lot of help. In the same way, the Church will fail to keep her vow to Christ and will fail in her mission to bring his love into the world without all of us keeping our vows to uphold and support her for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health and forsaking all others until death do us part.
We come to the table confessing the truth that by ourselves, we can’t do anything about the divisions in our country or world except exacerbate them. On our own, we really can’t love our enemies. But if we can accept the fact that Christ loves us—that he loved us even when we were enemies of God [Rom 5:10]—then we can let Christ love our enemies through us. This is the way the division ends. This is the way the world begins again.