Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by John Bosworth.]
It’s so easy to get lost in the pomp and pageantry and nostalgia of the season – chestnuts, open fires and all that–that we allow the rough edges of the Christmas story to be ground down smooth into nothing but a sentimental story filled with “tidings of comfort and joy.”
But this week’s gospel reading contains two of the most important events surrounding the coming of Christ. Traditionally, the first has been called The Annunciation, the “announcement” to Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, which is celebrated by many Christians on March 25th, nine months before Christmas. The second event is The Magnificat, which incidentally became one of the church’s most ancient hymns and is Mary’s song of response to her visitation. The word Magnificat comes from the Latin word for “magnify,” found in the first words she utters: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” And the words of her song magnify for us, the reality of Christ’s coming at Christmas: God, in Christ Jesus, is becoming King and His kingdom is turning the world upside down.
Knowing first hand that it is a fearful and messy thing to be chosen and encountered by God, she belts out, “He has shown strength with his arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:51-53)
Apparently, God thinks things are out of order and he has come to set the world to rights. Set us to rights. The sad truth is, that too often, Mary’s song is not our song. We’re singing off key. Because all though we may not consider ourselves to be rich and powerful, on the scales of history and the current world’s population … we ARE the ones who are rich, and self-sufficient, and self-seeking. We are the ones relying on our military, economic, and political power to maintain our way of life and protect our own self-interests. We are the ones who are literally and figuratively helping ourselves to seconds while others are going hungry. And the tyrant kings of our lives will do anything to hold onto their thrones and their power and resist a kingdom where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
But this is what Christmas is all about: the delivering, liberating, saving strength of God coming on our behalf and challenging us to rethink everything. Christ does not come to confirm our current belief systems and the present arrangement of things. He comes to change us. He comes to teach us a new song. To confront us with a melody … something more painfully and terrifyingly beautiful than the song we’ve grown accustomed to singing. A harmony challenging us to become more humble, more merciful, more forgiving, more generous, more present, more patient, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving. More … like him. And less like us.
And even though Mary’s song was not our song, because of Christmas, it can be.
Merry Christmas … and Viva la Revolution.
We all need one another’s affirmation, just as Mary needed Elizabeth’s, to live into God’s plan for the world. Find someone in your “Parish” this week and offer encouragement and words of affirmation. How can you use your gifts and calling to creatively work together as instruments of change in a world that is broken and out of order?