Homily Recap | Bob Reid
This week our children led us in worship for the first part of the service. It was a joy. Bob preached an abbreviate homily, a reflection on the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:39-56). The following is a recap of the homily.
Advent is a time of waiting, a time to prepare to meet Jesus. The children helped us this morning prepare to meet Jesus as they embodied the joy, wonder and hopefulness that children always offer us and especially during this season. And Mary in her song of praise provides us with a perfect complement to the joy of our children as she sounds forth a song of hope. Lovely prophetic words burst out of Mary, the teenager’s heart, as the Spirit of God gives her a song to sing that taps deeply into the ancient hopes of God’s people - hope for God to one day set the world in order through the coming of a very special ruler, an anointed King, Messiah.
The themes in the Magnificat are themes that are always associated with God’s promises of redemption - they are themes of great reversals -
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
If you are lowly and you hear this, you likely recognize it as good news and you hope against hope that it is true. If you are powerful and proud it is also good news but it may be harder for you to hear it as that. But consider this.....
...... God’s opposition of the proud is good news because God has revealed himself in the gospel as the one who opposes people for their good. The most radical version of this is captured in Paul’s teaching in Romans. In Romans 5 he points out that God opposes his enemies for their good, where he indicates that the heart of the gospel is about God opposing his enemies through pursuing them with his forgiving heart:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”
When we act like God’s enemies, God opposes us; God confronts our pride, arrogance, and power because he knows that these anti-virtues oppose human flourishing and will undo us and our communities if left unchecked. Rather than smiting us in anger, the gospel teaches us that he pursues us in forgiving love.
May these words that express the love and humility of God work on us this Advent Season and may we find the Holy Spirit sneaking up on us, in order to conquer our pride and our self-sufficiency, those anti-virtues which translate into a lack of compassion and patience for others. Then, as those who have been conquered for the gospel, we will become more faithful partners of God in lifting up the lowly in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our city and the world. What a beautifully redemptive picture of how God scatters the proud and lifts up the lowly.
Prayers of the People
We pray for those who are homeless and cold in this bitter winter weather. Wepray for all those suffering and sleeping on the streets, especially children, who are so weak and vulnerable. Make a way for them and draw them near, comfort them in spirit and bless those who work to provide them with shelter, food and friendship.
We continue to pray for those affected by the violence in Syria. We plead on behalf of the innocent as we hear of cease fires and people caught in the middle of war. We ask that you would bring peace to this region.
Almighty God, we pray for our friends and family members who are struggling to have hope in the face of prolonged illness, injury, or hardship. We ask for your spirit to give them wholeness, healing and hope.
O God our Savior, who shattered the power of darkness when you were born as a lowly child, we pray that we might be humble and joyous reflections of your glory.
Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer