St. Philip Lutheran Church
20 December 2020 + Advent 4B
Luke 1.26-38, 46b-55
Rev. Josh Evans, preaching
It seemed impossible. That the angel should come to her. Someone so young, so seemingly insignificant and easily cast aside. An apparent nobody. And pregnant?! Is that what angel said? Well, that can’t possibly be… Impossible.
It seemed just as impossible as the announcement to her relative Elizabeth. Someone who had tried so hard to have children, who had cried time and again with every loss, who had all but given up the shred of the possibility. Now pregnant too? For someone at her age?! Surely the angel was mistaken. Impossible.
It all seemed so impossible… until it wasn’t anymore. It’s possible.
And then: The eruption of joy in Mary’s song. Or maybe it’s Elizabeth’s song. Or more likely, maybe it’s both their songs. A cacophony of joy and hope and praise to God where there was none before, for the new reality of what had seemed so impossible.
Their expectations, indeed their world, turned upside down.
The lowly lifted up.
The hungry filled with good things.
The hopeless filled with hope.
Those who mourn given cause to laugh and dance.
The world turned upside down in two angelic announcements.
How can this be?
It seemed impossible. When the virus came and took over. Bringing our lives to a screeching halt, seemingly overnight. To isolation and quarantine. In home offices and virtual classrooms. In the dangerous front lines of essential workers and in the lonely lock-down of nursing homes.
It seemed impossible. For a plague? In the 21st century? That’s the stuff of Shakespeare and medieval history.
The world turned upside down.
In Advent, with Mary and Elizabeth, we stand on the cusp of possibility. A baby? A Savior? Can it really be?
After more than 1.6 million deaths, our world stands on the cusp of possibility… A vaccine? Even more than one? It seems impossible. Can it really be? Could the world be about to turn?
The promise to Elizabeth, the promise to Mary, opened the possibility of a world that was about to turn, a world that could be different. The world as it could be. The world as God dreams for it to be.
Not a world where the rich and the powerful exploit the poor and the powerless. But a world where all are fed, all are cared for, all are given the dignity that is theirs as children of God, all are loved.
Mary’s song, Elizabeth’s song, the song of the marginalized and cast aside, the song of the lonely and despairing, the song of those who dream for a different world… sounds a lot like the prelude to Jesus’s words, that he would utter only a few chapters later in Luke’s gospel:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives… to let the oppressed go free…
Like mother, like son.
The world is about to turn…
In the promise.
In the hope.
In the song.
In the angelic announcement.
In the possibility.
It seems impossible. The work of justice, of building God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, of fighting for equality, of imagining peace.
Mary’s song proclaims that God’s vision is possible … because it happened for her! It happened for Elizabeth. It’s happening here and now around us even today.
The world is about to turn.
Turning toward justice.
Toward the God who comes to make all things new.
The world is about to turn.
What are we turning to?