“Waiting for Love”

“Love Has Come”
Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:39-55
Dr. Bobby Hulme-Lippert
December 19, 2021

 I was checking out at HEB the other day, and I had our 5 year old, Leo, with me. And he is standing by this woman who is helping bag our groceries, so she looks down to him and says, “Hello.”
Leo kinda looks away sheepishly.
“Leo,” I say. “Do you want to say Hello?”
“Hello.”
And this woman leans down to Leo, “Its ok. I was so quiet when I was your age. But then 10th grade. Boom. Gearshift. It was like “Here I am world.” You’ll have your day, too, Leo.”

In our passage this morning, Mary is having her day.

Just a bit earlier in the Gospel of Luke, Mary has been told she is going to be pregnant and give birth to Jesus…and her response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” It’s faithful, it’s humble, but in comparison to our reading today – Mary’s first response is much more muted.

In our passage, Mary speaks, she sings the longest set of words spoken by a women in the entire New Testament.

And it is not just any song. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis, he called the Magnificat “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.”

The Scottish theologian, William Barclay, drills down into the nature of that revolution, observing that you have in this song…

  • a moral revolution (“God scatters the proud in the plans of their hearts” or as the Message translates, “”God scatters the bluffing braggarts.”),
  • a social revolution (“God casts down the mighty and exalts the lowly” or again as the Message puts it, “God knocks tyrants off their high horses, and pulls victims out of the mud.”),
  • and an economic revolution (“God has filled those who are hungry but those who are rich are sent away empty.” The Message – “”the starving poor will sit down at a banquet and the callous rich will be left out in the cold.”).

So vast are the implications of this song that in recent decades for different lengths of time – countries such as India, Guatemala, and Argentina have outright banned the Magnificat from being recited in liturgy or in public.

Too provocative.

Too revolutionary.

And goodness…Through the voice of a woman on the margins, surely sitting under the severe if not dire judgement of religious and societal leaders should the contour of her belly be discovered…

Mary is having her day.

Or maybe even truer – God is having God’s day. The full gift of God’s good news being put to memorable, inspiring song.We may or may not be ‘having our day’ today – or this Advent.

We may be full and overflowing…

  • or we may be overwhelmed.
  • Or prone to have the heart gripped by fear.
  • Or too often quick to anger.
  • Or, with many in our society today, we may simply recognize that somewhere within there exists a vague-but-very-real unsettledness.

What is going on?

What will happen?

And what if we took this day and these coming days and inquired about that unsettledness. Not just the unsettledness of not feeling ready for whatever we do or do not having going on this time of year, but the one under that often goes largely unnoticed. If we got to the bottom of it, would we find its all because our deepest fears are unfolding?

Or…what if the deepest of tremors have another Source? What if our balance or our footing or our sense of settledness somehow off because….what is most truly happening in the depths of our heart and the depths of all creation is the gift of Christmas unfolding? Is Love breaking strongholds? It is no accident that when Jesus dies on the cross and shows forth the fullest display of Love – the Gospel of Matthew records that there is an earthquake. From Jesus prophesied in Micah to Jesus in utero to Jesus upon the cross – it is clear that Love unsettles everything – unto a rising of Life, of course.

In light of Mary’s own song we might rightly ask ourselves…

  • What if some of the plans that are being thwarted are not the end but the beginning?
  • What if those on the outside are not a threat but the locus of God’s Good News right now?
  • What if banqueting tables filled with those who cannot afford the food at hand is not foolishness or excessive generosity but a sign that God is turning the tables for the nourishment of all?
  • What if the tremor is Love rolling away the stone and rising with life?

As terrifying as tremors and earthquakes around and within can be, Mary’s song proclaims that the deepest tremors of this world are not those of evil, but good. They are the tremors of Good unsettling, unseating evil. They are Jesus remaking this world. Which is why Mary sings a song that fills her soul:“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” That we, this Christmas, might be able to look upon all that is unsettled and perhaps even turning upside – and likewise discern great reason for the soul to sing -for us to have our day, for God to have God’s day. Amen.

About Dr. Bobby Hulme-Lippert