12/22/2015 sermon “Magnifying the Lord”

Preacher: Jo J. Belser
Location: The Fountains Continuing Care Retirement Facility, Alexandria, VA
Text: Luke 1:39-45
4Advent, Year C

Magnifying the Lord


Our Lady of the Sign, 13th Century icon, from Yurislavi, courtesy of Wikipedia

Those who chose our readings for today apparently wanted to be sure that we heard the Song of Mary. They included Mary’s response to being the bearer of God into our world as both the Psalm and as part—optionally—as our gospel lesson. We are supposed to use the Song of Mary in one place or the other, you understand, not leave out Mary’s rejoicing all together.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Mary exclaimed to start her song. Here, in the waning days of Advent, a scant three days before God is born anew into our world as Christ Jesus, I ask you if YOUR soul magnifies the Lord? If so, HOW does your soul magnify the Lord? And, I wonder, does YOUR spirit rejoice in God our Savior?

I’ve noticed over time, you see, that my Christmas trees have gotten smaller and smaller, and now non-existent. Yes, I’m less physically able to put up and decorate a tree now than in years past. And presents? I have all I want or need. I’m into instant gratification! And aren’t presents for children?

But how ELSE can I enter into the joy of Jesus being born again into our world? In other words, what are WE, some 2,015 years after Mary rejoiced at the coming birth of baby Jesus, supposed to DO with Mary’s song of joy? How can Mary’s joy touch our own joy? How can Mary’s joy kindle joy in us, all these millennia later?

In our worship service last Sunday, Randi Hicks Rowe suggested that we may be more like Mary than is apparent. She observed that we ALL are asked to “bear the Lord” into our world, to allow the Holy Spirit to live within us and to be Christ to the world. We are all called to a special vocation in this way, by magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in God our savior.

This call to bear Christ into the world comes to all of us. We may be called to hear a story from our neighbor for the 100th time. We may be called to reassure—yet again—someone who is very, very anxious. We may be called to encourage another human being (maybe one who is complaining) to break out in songs of praise. And to do all of that, we need to be secure in our own joy in the Lord and certain of what God would have us do to be Christ-bearers.

How do we know what we are called to do in the name of Christ Jesus? Elizabeth in our lesson today gives us a great hint: listen to what the Holy Spirit within us leaps for joy about. And then share that joy with someone else so that they, too, can do the joy-test.

For me and my spouse, we decided to buy each other a bicycle: a little, 16-inch bicycle for a very young rider. Oh, and a small bike helmet. We gave our gift to each other to Toys for Tots, who in turn will through the Salvation Army give it to a child who has been dreaming of a bicycle for Christmas. And then we bought a tree and took it to the church and decorated it so that all who worship at Resurrection this Christmas can share the wonder and joy of Christmas. And somehow, through giving away joy we didn’t have, Christ Jesus rekindled our spirits with the joy of Christmas.

How will your soul magnify the Lord this Christmas? How will YOU rejoice in the coming of God your savior?

Merry Christmas!

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