ADVENT 3 DEC 14 2008
Some have called it the most revolutionary document in the world.
And what document are these quotes referring to?
Some Terrorist manifesto? No.
The DaVinci Code? No.
The South Beach Diet or Chocolate Cookie Diet or each whaever you want and still lose weight diet or whatever diet Oprah is on these days? No.
Perhaps, the U.S. Declaration of Independence...actually, No.
I want you to listen to the words as they are sung…
The first verse of Canticle of the Turning echoes in the sanctuary
This hymn, the Canticle of the Turning is based upon our text for the 1st Lesson today from the Gospel of Luke: The Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise. It is this text, the Magnificat of Mary that has earned the label as the most revolutionary document in the world.
Let’s read it again. Slowly and Carefully.
Let’s read it together:
And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’
So what’s so revolutionary here? Where’s the bombshell?
A voice sings verse two of Canticle of the Turning.
Well, we learn that...the expectations of the world have been measured and found wanting.Mary suggests that God in Christ Jesus is about to turn the world upside down. To discomfort the secure. The comfortable. To turn God’s thoughts, God’s attention and God’s power to give the power to the powerless, the marginalized, the broken, the hungry, the poor. To raise them up. To declare that the human-made boundaries that separate poor and rich are not of God’s doing, not of God’s making, not of God’s Kingdom.
I was talking the other day with a church-goer from across town about ministry . “Around Thanksgiving,” he said, we hand out box lunches to the hungry. It makes us feel wonderful. Like we are doing something.” “That’s great,” I said. And I meant it. But I went on, “Have you folks ever thought about inviting them in to eat with you? To serve them a meal and engage them in conversation.?” He looked at me a little blankly. To hear what they have to say. About their life. Their struggles. Their dreams. Their burdens.
Let me ask you, what is more revolutionary, to hand the hungry food, which they need, of course and is a good and blessed ministry in and of itself, or to treat them as equals and at the same time more than equals, as guests at dinner?
Which is more revolutionary?
A voice sings verse three of Canticle of the Turning
The hungry people of this world need their food and we and countless other congregations and organizations and individual people give them food from our hearts and they are thankful for that. Their cupboards are barren, their children cry out and hunger rages. That food matters a great deal. But what is revolutionary, the bombshell as some call it, exploding into a world of us and them, what makes this text so dangerous is it’s proclamation that justice matters to God. That justice is valued by God. That the in-breaking Kingdom of God in and through the incarnation, Christ Jesus come into the world, demands it. And that treating one another as all equally part of the family of God is an act of justice.
With a handful of people First Lutheran in Fort Lauderdale has invited the hungry people of their city to come dine with them. To worship with them. To bless them with their conversation. Wednesday we join with others in serving as a part of this radical proclamation of the Kingdom of God. To not only feed their hunger for food, but for dignity, for personhood, for conversation and acceptance.
In choosing Mary, I ask you, is God making a statement? Is God speaking to justice? To what God and thus we should value? Should strive for?
The Magnificat is testimony to the answer to that question. A witness.
But are we ready to be revolutionaries of the heart? Revolutionaries In thought, mind, and especially in action? To not only feed the lowly, but lift them up as God has lifted them up before God’s throne? The day of the Lord is coming, Scripture and we proclaim, shall we not embody it with our very lives?
Think of all the ways in which we keep the poor and economically challenged at a distance. Instead of lifting them up, we tune them out, not wanting to add any more challenge to our lives. The time has come for us to turn.
The hymn refrain echoes.
The time to turn is here.