Monday Musing. On wondrous love.

Mary and Joseph, inspired by love. My reflection from worship at Wesley Uniting Church, Canberra, Advent 4. 




Mary’s Song: Holy Is

My soul sings in wonder,
with awe for Holy One.
My soul sings with joy, sings
the hope I know in God.

Holy One saw me and chose me -
see this gift, this blessing,
and sing with me in awe, for
Divine mysterious grace.

Holy is the Sacred Name,
great and worthy of praise.
Mercy flows from Holy one,
ever and ever unending.

Strength is in Holy One,
to scatter the proud of heart.
Just is Holy One to remember
the forgotten, downtrodden.

Kind is Holy One, to feed
the hungry delight upon delight.
Holy One remembers the people
made holy by the Sacred Name.

Mercy flows from Holy One,
a promise made of old;
mercy flows for Abraham’s family,
for Sarah’s kin in the Divine.

[Sarah Agnew, from Pray the Story]

My soul sings in wonder, with joy, sings the hope I know in God.

Mary’s response to this unexpected, disruptive, shame-bringing and untimely pregnancy is praise. Is joy. Is hope.

There’s been a small flurry of protest in social media land these past few weeks, many of my friends engaging in the rejection of a popular Christmas song with shouts of ‘of course Mary knew!’ (Mary did you know, your baby boy….) I happen to like the song, and found myself writing a poetic response, pondering the rhetorical use of a question to a protagonist that is actually posing a question to the listener. So that the song asks us do we know, do we understand, the profoundness of this birth. And in the midst of all the commercialism, fluff and fireworks, I actually wonder if the story and its challenge doesn’t get rather lost and forgotten, making the question still pertinent.

However, it’s rather early in the sermon for such digression.

Mary knew. She understood. The story shows us her surprise, her very human response – it’s not me you want, surely, what can I do? And for a woman in a small town, well, it’s the men, isn’t it, the wealthy, educated, city based men who bring about change, who do the important things.

But, she sings: Holy One saw me. Chose me.

And Mary accepts God’s choice, the gift. For she knows, she understands, who God is. God the Merciful One, the Holy One, the one worthy of praise, the One to be trusted. She trusts. Mary trusts the promise she hears from the messenger of God.

Strength is in Holy One,
to scatter the proud of heart.
Just is Holy One, to remember
the forgotten, downtrodden.

Mary knows God’s love for God’s people. Mary trusts this love.

She sings from among a people oppressed under foreign rule.
She sings from among the poorer folk in the rural areas, the hungry from whom wealthy and powerful rulers and landowners take more, much more than they need.
She sings as a young person – though in her time, by her age, with life expectancy far lower than in our time, she was practically an adult, and as a betrothed, about to enter the very adult world of marriage, running a household, parenting. Let’s hear her sing as a young person, though, on the cusp, and therefore in so many societies overlooked, silenced, dismissed, even a pawn in the manouevering of others.
Mary sang as a woman, whose power and autonomy have been misunderstood, feared, suppressed in every age and almost every place known to humanity.

So Mary sings not only knowing God’s love and trusting that love, but she sings with deep knowledge of the many kinds of oppression and diminishment humans endure. She sings from the knowledge and understanding of the need for God’s love in the world.

Love that is kind. Love that seeks enough for the other. Love that sees the other, affirms your dignity and worth, love that remembers – heals, restores your fullness of humanity.

That love inspires hope, as we sang in week 1 of Advent. Hope for liberation from oppression.

That love has the power to bring about peace, within us and between us, as we sang on Advent 2. Peace incomplete while our neighbours have not received it yet.

That love gives rise to joy – not the happiness of a moment, but the joy that endures through hardship, the joy we sang in Advent 3. Joy that comes from abiding in the presence of God.

That love births our love for one another, births courage, integrity, kindness, compassion.

At St Aidan’s this morning I recalled the stories of two husbands in Call the Midwife’s earlier seasons. Two husbands whose wives betray them and give birth to other men’s – differently coloured men’s – children. One responds from his insecurity and jealousy, and viciously rejects his wife and her child. He returns, but looks at his wife in a way that causes her to shrivel.

The other husband shows some hurt, naturally, but immediately embraces the child he has loved in the womb, forgives the wife he has loved. His love evokes her genuine apology, and his forgiveness seems to be irresistible to her. He looks at his wife and the child in such a way as to make them both shine, rise, reach for their fullness of being.

Joseph faced the shame of an untimely pregnancy for his wife, of raising a son not his own. In Joseph’s story we see profoundly the wonder of love. For Joesph, assurance of the work of God who is Love in the midst of this unexpected pregnancy, trust in that Divine Love, enabled him, like Ted, to withstand the shame, draw closer to Mary, and love this child as his own.

Mercy flows from Holy One, Mary sings. Mercy born of Love, a promise Mary’s people have known to be fulfilled again and again. Mary knows God’s love, and she trusts it. It will give her, and Joseph, the courage they need for the life to which they have, unexpectedly, been called.

Who may come into our lives unexpectedly, perhaps even unwelcome, and how will we respond?
Will we be insecure and jealous, and refuse to share what we have with an outsider, refuse to forgive, to love?
Will we respond with courageous, generous, grace-filled love, having received that love from God?
Will we, like Mary, sing our love and trust in God who is the source of deepest, truest, most radical, love?

My soul sings in wonder,
with awe for Holy One.
My soul sings with joy, sings
the hope I know in God.

Holy One saw me and chose me -
see this gift, this blessing,
and sing with me in awe, for
Divine mysterious grace.

Holy is the Sacred Name,
great and worthy of praise.
Mercy flows from Holy one,
ever and ever unending.

Strength is in Holy One,
to scatter the proud of heart.
Just is Holy One to remember
the forgotten, downtrodden.

Kind is Holy One, to feed
the hungry delight upon delight.
Holy One remembers the people
made holy by the Sacred Name.

Mercy flows from Holy One,
a promise made of old;
mercy flows for Abraham’s family,
for Sarah’s kin in the Divine.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

oral communication and the relationship between speaker and listener

'I covet your prayers.' No, I do not think you do.

Midweek Musing. Remembering