The story takes over this week. Let’s just admit it. The story that we’ve learned and told and retold, the story that we’ve sentimentalized and Disney-fied, the story that has produced songs and dramas, movies and poems. And yet through it all, the story persists. The story draws. It defies explanation. It is an act of beauty and awe and is best met with open-mouthed wonder. God, our God, promised to be born in the flesh, like our flesh. It amazes when you stop to wonder again.
That’s the blessing the week promises: the blessing of wonder. The blessing that picks you up and sets you on your feet and gives you a new spirit for living. Live that blessing this week. Stand in awe of this story. Let a young woman read the text as if it were her story. Because it is! Go beyond the assigned verses and read Mary’s song; let that be the psalm that is read this week, that is sung this week. It is a powerful word, a word of blessing and hope and promise. It is a threat to the status quo, to be sure; but everyone knows the status quo isn’t working all that well. So, sing it: “The world is about to turn!” The Canticle of the Turning, written by Rory Cooney, with its lilting Irish tune tells this story well. It is a modern retelling of the Magnificat, Mary’s song after being blessed by Elizabeth in her home. The refrain of the song makes it hard to keep still: My heart shall sing of the day you bring. / Let the fires of your justice burn. / Wipe away all tears, / For the dawn draws near, / And the world is about to turn.
We are blessed by this promise; we are challenged and given hope by this promise. The blessing of home is the reminder that the gift of Christmas is ours and the world’s both. So, bless one another as we sing, as we hear the story. Bless with laying on of hands, if we dare, if the protocols allow. Maybe the family units can bless one another, the couples and the close friends and find a connection to make during the service as a tactile blessing to hold on to. Or maybe, more safely, like Mary, we can ponder these things in our hearts as we remember that we are blessed. From this home, this promised home we call the kin-dom of God, we are blessed. Find a way, a safe way, to remind everyone of that blessing today.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.