Home Events Sermon 12-8-2019: “Mary’s Song”

Sermon 12-8-2019: “Mary’s Song”

A young girl was raised on promises:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together.”

She was raised on promises that nestled into her very bones and captured her imagination until they are the very lenses through which she sees the world:

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.”

As a violent empire occupied and abused her people, she learned to expect hope. To expect peace. To expect the impossible:

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
And a little child will lead them.”

She was also raised on harsh purity culture.

She knew that female sexuality was an object men owned.

She must be chaste — or pay a cost. The cost would likely be any hope of being provided for. Women were not allowed to provide for themselves. Or for the innocent child that may happen before a wedding. The cost could very well be public execution. To keep the other girls in line.

She was raised with promises of peace. She was also raised with promises of violence.

So, a messenger of Spirit tells her that her world, as she has known it, is ending. She will become pregnant. What is more, the world around her, as she has known it, would end. This child — who, Mary begins to fear, will grow up in the shadow of poverty and shame that hovers over an unwed mother — will be the very child of God.

And then, we’re told in Luke 1, the messenger utters these soul-changing words: For no word from the Eternal One will ever fail.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
No word from the Eternal One will ever fail.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
And a little child will lead them.
No word from the Eternal One will ever fail.”

As a violent empire occupied her people, a young girl was raised with promises of peace she had never seen. She learned to expect hope. To expect peace. To expect the impossible.

And a messenger from Spirit reminds her that No word from the Eternal One will ever fail.

There is a Cheryl Strayed quote that comes to mind when I think of Mary in this story: “It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”

And so she sings a song.

She says the “Mighty One has done great things for me.” 

Everywhere else, that word that is translated Mighty is translated: Possible.

This young girl has learned to expect the impossible. And it is impossible for her to go on as she had before. And so she sings: The Possible one has done great things for me.

This is no lilting alabaster woman like we see in so many paintings.

She is a young girl gritting her teeth, clenching her fists. Facing a future that is literally impossible. And choosing to sing in the face of it.

She looks more like an immigrant caring for her child from a cage.

Or like Greta Thunberg sitting by herself at that first Climate Strike, reminding us, “We young people are unstoppable.”

Or like Autumn Peltier, sings to us: “We can’t eat money or drink oil.”

Or like Mari Copeny, who shouts from her bullhorn: “It may feel like it’s going to be impossible to make real change, but the hardest thing is actually just doing it.”

Or like Biblical Studies Professor Carolyn Sharp explains, Mary is “a girl who sings defiantly to her God through her tears, fists clenched against an unknown future.”

We are all facing an unknown future in some way. Financial woes. Health concerns. The loss of someone we love. Or maybe is is just some wound in our souls that doesn’t seem to heal. Or maybe it’s climate change and the life change it asks of us. Maybe it’s that you can’t fathom even more change in a lifetime that has already induced you to change fatigue. Maybe you just don’t feel like you’ve heard — really heard — Spirit speaking in a long time and you wonder if She’s forgotten you. Forgotten us. Forgotten this vulnerable little planet.

That Cheryl Strayed quote is true for all of us as we gather here today in search of peace:

“It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”

And as 12 year old Mari Copeny speaks to us — to you: “It may feel like it’s going to be impossible to make real change, but the hardest thing is actually just doing it.”

The Mighty One has done great things.

But truly: The possible one faithfully does great things. For us. Around us. Among us. Through us. With us.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, and a little child shall lead them. No word from the Eternal One will ever fail.

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Date

Dec 08 2019
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