the third sunday of advent …

Luke 01. 46b-55
There’s no beginning, no ending; there’s only the god who loves!

And here I thought I was being so clever! So imaginative! So inspired! But looking back, now, I think I got ahead of myself. Too clever, I guess. For my own good. Two weeks ago, was the first Sunday of Advent. And if you remember, I wished y’all a happy new year! Christ the King was over. Thanksgiving was behind us. So, technically speaking, it was new year, here in the church. The color was changed to blue. The candles were ready. And our own countdown to Christmas had begun. The only thinks missing … the party horns and confetti. So, Happy New Year, y’all! Only thing …

I kinda jumped the gun. I’d forgotten that Advent was a bit more … nuanced. A little more subtle. On the surface, it appears to be all about Christmas. Especially when the world around us is involved in the mad dash to December 25. But for us, Advent is, actually, more like a … time warp. When the past and the future turn in on each other. When tomorrow and yesterday get all twisted and turned. What was, is now, and will be forever. Advent’s like a link on the paper chains the kids are making about now. Instead of a straight line, it’s a circle. No start or finish. No beginning or end. The first and the last overlapping, taped together.

Two weeks ago, it was all about that day and hour no one knows. Last Sunday, it was the Baptist crying on Jordan’s banks. And this morning – if we’d’ve read it – the passage would have been John’s disciples asking Jesus if he was the one. Advent isn’t a line. A timeline. It’s a whirlwind! Everything getting tossed about. Past becoming present. Future becoming past. One moment one thing; the next, something else entirely. Happy New Year? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends. But there’s one thing that never changes. God. God! Not god in chronology. First, god the creator. Then, god the savior. Finally, god the sanctifier. But god the Father, Spirit, and Son. All at once! Not of eternity. But of past, present, future! Tomorrow, yesterday, today!

Today’s the third Sunday of Advent. In the past, we’d be reading Psalm 146. The read would begin. “Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the LORD their God!” And the congregation would reply, “who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; who keeps promises forever!” But this week, there’s an option. An alternative. Luke, chapter one, the second half of verse forty-six to verse fifty-five. Mary’s Song of Praise! The Magnificat! It’s the song Mary sang in response to Elizabeth’s greeting. The baptizer’s mother saw her and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” And Mary says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” With those words, time implodes on itself! The hopes and fears of all the years collapse in on themselves. The past and the future comes crashing into the present!

And that, my friends, is what we call faith! Believing! It’s not, simply, a pathway to heaven. It’s the thread that runs through time. The thread that draws everyone and everything together. It’s not our choices that do that. Our successes. Our accomplishments. Our faith. Our hope. Not even our love. It’s our god! Elizabeth’s god! Mary’s god! Like Mary, we’re here to proclaim the greatness of the Lord! To magnify! To celebrate! To lift up! And rejoice in God our Savior! God looking with favor on the lowly! God doing great things for them! God lifting them up! Filling them with good things! Coming to their aid! Remembering the promise!

That’s what this season is all about! It’s not a straight line! From point a to point b! It’s a song! A dance! Full of twists and turns! Full of riffs and runs and rhythms and rhymes! We oversimplify. We dumb down. And when we do, we miss the heartbeat! We overlook the breath! We fail to see god! We fail to see god! And if Advent is about anything, it’s about god! It’s about Mary’s god! Not a so-called secondComing. Not the birth of a messiah, a savior. Not happily-ever-afters or dreams-come-true. Advent isn’t a countdown. D-day. H-hour. Advent is watching, waiting, for a god who comes to us! Who comes to us and never leaves! Advent is watching, waiting, for a god who cares! Whose commitment stirs everything up. What was. What is. What will be. Spinning! Churning! Chaotic! Confused!

My soul – our souls – proclaim the greatness! And my spirit – our spirits – rejoice! God looking with favor! Looking with favor on the down and out! Looking with favor on the forgotten and ignored! Having mercy! Being compassionate! Forgiving! Scattering the high and mighty! Casting down the self-centered and the self-absorbed! Lifting up the poor and needy! Filling them with good things! Advent is god! God remembering! Remembering the promise! Generation! After generation! After generation!

Start to finish … Beginning to end … it’s about god! It’s ALL about god! God the first! God the last! And god every moment in between! Creating! Salvaging! Creating all over, again! It goes around and around and around! And god is active and involved every step of the way! In every heartbeat! Every breath! Never waiting till invited! Not stopping till allowed!

It’s Advent! And god continues to be god! The earth is formless! Darkness covers the sea! The wind sweeps over the waters! It’s creation! It’s the flood! It’s goodFriday! Easter! The wind and the whirlwind! End, middle, beginning churning! Tossing! Roiling! And the one thing we can’t say is “Happy New Year!”

All we can do is sing the song … with Mary … “Our soul magnifies the Lord, and our spirit rejoices in God our Savior … for god has seen … and has looked with favor!” Who was, my friends, is now! And who was and is will be forever! Right here! Right now! 

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Midland Lutheran Church