Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Inspiration for the Day, December 25, 2012: 

Moving With Mary's Song

"Let's assume for just a second that the account of Elizabeth and Mary's pregnancies is literally true. By all accounts, Mary was a young teenager at the time - awkward; hormones raging; body growing in fits and starts into adulthood, mind following reluctantly along. Any middle schooler will tell you - it's not easy being Mary. Then, on top of all that, she discovers that she's pregnant? By the Holy Spirit? The angel says, "don't be afraid," and at first Mary responds to this astounding news proudly, almost defiantly - "Here am I" - and then . . . she flees. And far away, too. From Galilee to the Judean hill country - 50 miles or more. Remember, she's just a kid.

"According to the angel, Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, is also pregnant, even though she is quite elderly. Mary immediately bolts (no word of Joseph here) to be with her cousin. Just her greeting is enough to stir Elizabeth's womb, prompting her baby to kick (for the first time?). A bond is forged, and Mary stays for three months until just before Elizabeth's baby (john, who becomes herald of the Christ) is born.

"Why? What did Mary find there that she didn't have at home? Elizabeth offered extravagant welcome and no judgment. Perhaps because of her own experience, she could relate to the young cousin on her doorstep. Whatever the case, Elizabeth clearly offered a safe space to Mary, a place of joy, affirmation and support.

"Out of this safe space Mary is able to sing a song of praise, often called The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), that is one of the most stirring passages in all of scripture, simultaneously a song of thanksgiving and praise and a cry for justice.

"So, if we want to empower others to both sing praises and call out for justice, let us learn from these two women: they pick up the clues that angels leave; they offer hospitality without judgment or recrimination; they do not hesitate to sing out in joy but link their song to cries for justice.

"When we are non-judgmental, when we are attentive to providing a supportive environment, when we (elders) allow young voices to find their place, and when we (of Mary's age) see out the counsel of older persons, we can discover settings across generations in which both poems of praise and cries of justice emerge in beauty."

- Rev. Robert Chase

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