Advent Wreath Meditations - 2013 (Garland): Third Sunday of Advent
Third Sunday of Advent: December 15, 2013
Luke 1:46-53; Isaiah 35:4,6b-8a,10 (NRSV)
"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 [imaginations] 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.'
"Say to those who are of a fearful heart, 'Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.'
"Waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way.
"The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
At the heart of the events that lead to the birth of Jesus is Mary’s exultation: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." It is more than a song of praise - it is a prophetic commentary on what this birth means. People shall, as Isaiah proclaims, "...obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Advent is an invitation to rejoice in the power of God’s salvation. Consider the prophetic implications of this birth, and the promise it holds for people of faith:
. . . the mighty removed from positions of power - the lowly lifted up.
. . . the hungry satisfied - the rich emptied.
. . . the fearful receiving strength and salvation.
. . . the exiles returning to obtain joy and gladness.
How then do we share Mary’s joy and receive the renewal promised by Isaiah?
. . . by believing that God can lift us up and use us for good?
. . . by trusting that God has the power to redeem?
. . . by confidence that God will come and free us from fear?
. . . by resolving to live in joy and gladness?
When we live in the certain expectation that God will restore righteousness and show people the way of faithfulness, then we will see what the birth of Immanuel can portend.
Candle Lighting Liturgy
Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. God will come and save you."
(Here relight the first two Advent candles.)
The light of God’s Presence comes to redeem.
The Mighty One has done great things: holy is the name of the Lord.
Our spirits will rejoice in God our Savior.
We light a third candle to show the Holy Way of God.
(Here light the third candle.)
We will walk faithfully in the way of joy and gladness.
"My Soul Gives Glory to My God," The United Methodist Hymnal, 198
"Sanctuary," The Faith We Sing, 2164
"The Heart of Love with Grace Abounds" by F. Richard Garland