Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Voices of Mothers and Angels

     In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
                              - Luke 1:39-45

          When I find myself in times of trouble
          Mother Mary comes to me
          Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
          And in my hour of darkness
          She is standing right in front of me
          Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
          Let it be, let it be.
          Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
     I have always loved the words of that song. It has guided me through some tough times in my life. I guess if you've got to adopt a Beatles song for some spiritual guidance it is certainly better to use this one than the song “I am the Walrus”

          Yellow custard, dripping from a large black pot.
          Fisherman with his fishwife,
          You've been a naughty boy and you let your face get dirty.
          I am eating eggs (woo), they are eating eggs (woo),
          I am John Lennon,
          Goo goo ga joob.
     It is a little tough to draw spiritual comfort or direction from that one.

     I have always interpreted “Let it be” as "Leave the thing alone... let God handle it.” Now that is really good advise and scriptural, but I recently realized, "Leave it alone” is not at all what Mary meant when she said, "Let it be."

     After Gabriel announced to her all that was to come, "Let it be" was her saying, "Let it begin… Let it begin with me." “Let the changing of the world begin with me.” And it did. Mary hurries to visit Elizabeth. Harrell Beck, a professor at Boston University used to say, "Every family needs a wise aunt to whom an unmarried pregnant teenager can go." Long before the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit is poured out on Elizabeth and she says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” The ancient words of Elizabeth have become part of our Christian heritage often repeated in gratitude just for Mary saying, “Let it be.” Elizabeth goes on to say, “Blessed is she who believed.”

     And Mary, filled with the same Spirit, answers Elizabeth in the beautiful song of triumph we now call the Magnificat. Mary appears to have every reason not to sing. She is poor, pregnant, and not yet married, yet she sings of a God who calls her blessed. A God who takes human form in the incarnation of Jesus. Her song speaks of a God who comes to turn the world upside down: He brings down the powerful and lifts up the lowly! He fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty! Here is the gospel of liberation. To this day if you read this out loud in some Latin American countries, it can get you killed. We're still waiting… for an end to violence, for a world of peace, for the lifting of burdens, for the hungry to be fed, for our hungers to be satisfied. Like Mary, we can answer God’s dream of a new world, a new kingdom, by saying, “Let it be.” Let the changing of the world begin with me.

     It was not the men, but the women who believed first – Mary and Elizabeth! It was the women who believed first at the resurrection; they ran to tell the men, “The Lord is risen!” It was not the voices of kings or prophets or the powerful or the rich that changed the world – it was the voices of mothers and angels.

     I don’t know about you, but there are days I don’t feel like I have much control over things: We get sick; we age; relationships we thought we couldn’t live without end; people we love die; wars rage on. Despite all these hard realities, we can change the world if we begin with ourselves. If we say, “Yes!” If we allow God to enter our lives just as he entered Mary’s life and changed the world over 2,000 years ago. Not because we’re powerful or strong or better than anyone else. We can change the world because we remember it all began with the weakest… with the smallest.

     It all began with a baby and a mom who said "Yes"… “Let it be.”

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