Bearing Emmanuel (Sermon)

This is an adapted form of the sermon I preached this morning, the Third Sunday of Advent. I used alternates texts to what was assigned; the gospel text was Luke 1:39-55., the story of the Visitation.

In the little town of Nazareth
She was waiting for her wedding day
She was nervous, excited, apprehensive
She wondered what would come her way

Would she bear a lot of kids
Would the wedding be a mess
Would Joseph be a gentle man
Would married life be filled with stress

Mary felt so small, so flimsy
No idea what she wanted or deserved
She worried that she couldn’t handle
The changes, the surprises, all the curves

When suddenly there arose a clatter
She sprang from the bed to see what was the matter
Away to the windows she flew with a fright
And there stood an angel bathed in divine light

“Greetings!” he said, “I bid you a good day!
My name is Gabriel, now be not afraid!”
Mary said, “I’m not scared, but I am quite confused
I’m only a peasant, how may I be used?”

The angel said, “Mary, you will bear the Messiah!
Who is born to set the whole world free!”
And Mary said, “Yes. I will be God’s servant.
As you say it, so may it be.”

How was Mary so calm, so concerted?
How did she take this strange news so well?
Perhaps she could feel a presence within her
God with us, which in Hebrew is Emmanuel

So Mary ran off, to tell her aunt Liz
She’d understand, she was old and quite wise
Now Elizabeth was far too old to have children
But there she stood, six months pregnant, Surprise!

And Elizabeth knew who was standing before her
Not just her niece, not just a young girl
“Hail Mary,” she said, “You are blest among women,
And the child within me just tumbled and twirled.”

How did Liz know about Mary’s news?
And her unborn child knew it as well?
Perhaps they could sense the presence of Jesus
They knew they were privy to Emmanuel

And Mary sang:
My soul and my spirit, indeed my whole self
Rejoices in God the creator
For I am the lowly, the humble, the weak
Yet God has looked on me with favor

God has done a new thing for me, sung a new song for me
My Savior has rung a new bell
My heart has been filled with goodness and mercy
For I have met Emmanuel

And Mary sang of God’s mercy, a mercy that rains
Like snow drifting over the fields
A mercy that lasts for ages and ages
A mercy that sets free and heals

This mercy, she cried, is not just for me
But for people of all times who dwell
All who dwell in the Lord’s love, all who believe
Shall be touched by Emmanuel

And Mary sang of God’s judgment, a judgment that falls
Upon all the self-righteous and mighty
Their power is broken, their days are now numbered
For they will soon meet the Almighty

This judgment, she cried, it cannot be stopped
For God cannot bear to stand still
When he comes face to face with injustice or hate
And soon comes Emmanuel

And Mary sang of the lowly, the hungry, the poor
She sang of God’s mercy for them.
They will be fed. And they will be filled.
They will be lifted like plants on the stem

The lowly, she cried, will have all good things
And voices with which they can tell
Of all the good news and glad tidings they know
For soon will be Emmanuel

Mary sang of the promises made by the Lord
The covenant made with her kin
The prophets, the seers, the psalms had foretold
Into our world God would break in

My people, she cried, have all heard the news
God promise to Is-a-rael
And now we will see that promise fulfilled
As God’s love becomes Emmanuel

Mary stayed a few months, and then she returned
We’ve all heard the tale of what’s next
A child was born, and was laid in a manger
It’s chapter two of Luke’s gospel text

But what of us now, who still live in this world
Where so much is broken, and wrong.
Her child did not fix it, at least not to our eyes
So how can we sing Mary’s song?

Perhaps Mary gives us a signpost, a way
To live amid suffering and hurry
Perhaps she’s the example to living with peace
And patience, to cast aside worry

For Mary was filled with the presence of God
Her job was to bear the noel
In her world of struggle and hunger and pain
She experienced Emmanuel

And perhaps just like her, we are sent out as well
To bear this new light to the earth
And perhaps just like her, it’s now our job to be
The ones who proclaim a new birth

We don’t always see it, but neither did she
We too need to lean on our Liz
Together reminding each one of God’s love
Together proclaiming, “God Is!”

The peace that we crave, it’s within our own hearts
For that is where Christ now resides
And as Mary once bore this Christ long before
He now lives within us, inside

And so let us go forth, bearing light in the dark
Bearing hope for a world that rebels
For we too can say what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard
That we carry Emmanuel

Photo by Marly Mele on Unsplash

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