Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking Forward to December 11, 2011 -- 3rd Sunday of Advent

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Luke 1:47-55 (VU p.898)
  • Luke 1:68-79 (VU p.900)
  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The Sermon title is Be Not Afraid, Justice shall be done.

Early Thoughts: Meek and mild? I don't think so. Mary's song announces a world about to be turned upside down.

Mary's song, the Magnificat, has been set to many tunes over the centuries. We are singing this one this week:

It is a song of defiance. It is a song of change. It is a song of revolution.

In Luke chapter 4 Jesus begins his ministry (as Luke tells the story) by reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  In fact he reads from what we call chapter 61. [side note: the original manuscripts of Scripture (both Hebrew and Greek) do not have chapter or verse number {nor punctuation} these have been added over the centuries, primarily for ease of reference].  Luke's Jesus is born to a woman with revolutionary ideas, and shares those ideas about justice throughout his ministry.

This fall we have heard a lot about Justice.  Between the OCCUPY movements and the Federal Government's omnibus justice bill the news has been full of the word, albeit in very different (though arguably related) meanings. What do we mean when we say that Mary sings of Justice, when we say that Jesus preaches the coming of Justice?

More or less we are talking about economic and social justice.  We are talking about asking the questions like "why do some have so much while others can't have enough to survive?"  We are talking about wondering why some people are treated like they are of less importance, less worth, than others.  To deal with these question means turning the world upside down, both in terms of economic assumptions and in terms of social/class/"in crowd" structures.

Over and over again Scripture talks about taking care of the "least of these".  It is arguable that the main theme of Scripture is about living in a just society, that the Peace of Christ comes not through victory in battle but through justice for all.  At Christmas we celebrate God's breaking in to the world around us.  And so we have to sing with Mary.  We have to proclaim that Justice will be done.  We also have to ask ourselves where we are part of the problem and where we are part of the solution.

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