PROCESSIONAL DRAMA based on Luke 1:26-38

What I’m about to say is true.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,
God sent an angel named Gabriel to the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary
who was engaged to be married to Joseph, who was descended from King David.
Upon seeing her, Gabriel said:
“Good morning! You are God’s beautiful daughter. May God be with you!”
As you can imagine she was thoroughly shaken,
wondering what was going on.
But the angel assured her,
“Mary, you have nothing to fear,
God has a surprise for you.
You will become pregnant and give birth to a son you’ll name Jesus.”
Mary couldn’t imagine this and said to the angel,
“How can this be? I’ve never been with a man.”
Gabriel answered her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
God’s spirit will hover over you
and the child you birth will be called Holy, the Son of God.”
And that’s not all –
your cousin Elizabeth is six months pregnant with a son as well.
Truly, it happened this way, a long, long time ago.
This feather is a reminder of the angel’s visit to Mary. (the feather is place by the 3rd candle)

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:46-55
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

MESSAGE
We just lit the pink Advent candle…
almost every year the pink candle is lit in reverence of Mary…
this year it is also named the spirit candle… for the spirit of God which dwelled within Mary’s womb
the spirit which has transformative power
the Spirit which brings us joy!

And this week we move from Mark’s gospel to the gospel according to Luke
One of the most prominent elements of Luke’s spiritual world is joy.
The angel promises Zechariah, John’s father, that he will have “joy and gladness” at the birth of his son and that many will “rejoice” at his birth (1:14).

The Greek word that occurs over and over is agalliasis, (a ga lee as cs) which is translated as wild joy, ecstatic delight, exultation, exhilaration, elation —JOY

When Mary encountered the angel Gabriel I can’t imagine what she felt… confusion, disbelief…fear…God had a surprise for her…they left out the part about water retention and swollen ankles
but somehow the spirit of God infuses Mary with unexplainable joy —leading her to make the journey to see her cousin…

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped for joy” (1:44).
And we just heard a reading of Mary’s exclamation in what has come to be called the Magnificat: “My spirit rejoices [egalliasen] in God!” (1:47);

Joy is present in the quiet joy of friends and relatives around the cradle of John the baptist (see 1:58),
And joy will burst forth at the birth of Christ in the acclamation of angels to shepherds: “We bring you good news of a great joy!” (2:10).

In Luke’s gospel account there are not just a few mentions of joy here and there.
There is a constant sharing of instances of quiet, profound joy.

This joy is a kind of sober intoxication of the Spirit.
it is an overjoyed sober drunkenness
The joy the people of Luke’s gospel experience is a true spiritual intoxication, but it is also sober.
They do not focus on themselves; they are not jockeying for a prominent position in the kingdom of God that is beginning.

God is the source of joy
More specifically, God’s action in history is the source of joy
God’s action to take on human flesh in Jesus

The joy that burst forth from Mary’s heart and from the other witnesses to the birth comes from the action of God.
God has acted!

the kind of joy that flows from Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth releases intense energy of the Spirit that causes both the mother and the baby in her womb to re­joice.
It is the joy of expectation.
This kind of joy does not come solely from the outside but from the inside as well,
In Mary’s hymn of joy, the Magnificat, “My soul,” Mary sings, “magnifies the Lord, . . . for he who is mighty has done great things for me.”
Hers is a joyful and prophetic song praising God
Mary’s joy is transformative

But….we know that Transformation can also mean the ending or even death of things in order to make room for the birth of something different— a new age.
Death of the familiar, even familiar ways of injustice, can be disruptive and even painful.
Change can be painful.
The birth pains that can accompany the birth of something new or different may be painful.
But ultimately they lead to joy
This is what Mary’s prophetic hymn is about– the social order will be turned upside down so it can once again be set right side up, so that joy can emerge.

Striving for justice, pushing back against injustice is at the heart of the recent “me too” movement: I know you may be tired of hearing about it…
Week after week we have seen some powerful people fall from grace.
We don’t yet really know whether the vulnerable, those who were harassed and/or assaulted will be exalted!
Other than by Time magazine… who made the collective people who broke their silence…Time’s person of the year for 2017
If the survivors experience joy… it is most likely bitter sweet

Balancing the scales of justice can be painful, especially to those who have benefited from their positions of power, whether by economic privilege, institutional injustice or power politics
We don’t yet know if there will be an end to institutional injustice.
But it is clear that there must be sacrifice so that the tears and pain of those who have suffered can be eased and healing can possibly occur.
So they might find their joy…
Joy is smothered by silence in the face of injustice

Isaiah’s and Mary’s words remind us that justice-seeking can be messy and involve pain for some in order to uplift others.

This is the third Sunday in Advent.
The Sunday when we turn from active waiting to joyful anticipation of Christ’s arrival.

The joy faith seeks holds hands with justice.
It will remain fleeting in our lives as long as we think faith is simply a personal and private.
(Ask Mary about what it means to live a public faith and realize that faith leads us to serve others
she knew joy in faithful serving.)
When we risk living our faith out in the world, we draw closer to the joy of life in the Spirit of God.
When we pause to listen to the prophets, hear their cries to prepare the way of the Lord, joy might begin to take up residence in our communities once again.
Christ is waiting to enter into all the broken places in our lives, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our nation, and in our world.
The prophets and silence breakers—including Mary, John and Isaiah— are crying out, telling us what is needed to prepare the way.
Isn’t it time we move toward Joy? Amen

Resources: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure/2017/12/adventurous-lectionary-third-sunday-advent-december-17-2017/

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/critical-essay/marys-joy-everyone

https://rachaelkeefe.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/joy-awaits/