Trinity 15

If we really listen to the words of the Magnificat, if we take in their meaning and the enormity of them,
we might find ourselves shutting the doors and speaking in hushed voices.
It is, in truth, a deeply subversive song that the young girl Mary sings.
Many modern commentators attempt to spiritualise away Mary’s Magnificat –
separating out the human and divine in a way that would have been utterly alien to anyone,
including Mary, living in first century Palestine.

There is great spiritual wealth within the song Mary sings, but there are also the seeds of revolt and rebellion against the injustices of this world.

It encapsulates within it the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today is the second anniversary of me being your vicar.

A common adage amongst clergy goes:

First year, you can do nothing wrong

Second year, you can do nothing right

Third year, no one cares!

I have to say, I am pleased to be here at the end of a difficult second year.

I am still thankful to God for calling me here to minister alongside you.
There are all kinds of things  see things all over the place that give me cause to feel hope and joy,
but it has been a hard year.

However, I sincerely hope the end of year two does not mean that we all stop caring.

Please, if you think we could be doing better somewhere, if there is something we are not doing, or something we are that we shouldn’t be,
come and talk to someone.
But that comes with a caveat:
Come with a suggestion.
Come with an offer to get involved.

Please, if you think we are doing something well,
if there is something we are doing that is good,
or something that has started that is making a difference to peoples lives,
come and talk to someone.
We all need to be encouraged.

Above all, I hope that in this third year we will take seriously our desire to build the Kingdom of God,
on earth as in heaven.
If we want a glimpse of what that might look like, we need look no further than Mary’s song.

In it we see amazing devotion to God.
We hear Mary speak the language of rebellion;
not of the dysfunctional or the untransformed,
but of one longing to see God’s Kingdom come.
We see an attentiveness that allowed her to say ‘yes’ to God’s request, even knowing she would suffer rejection and shame for that ‘yes’.

Yet Mary, far from complaining,
actually glorifies God.
For she has a deep trust in God that is rooted in what she knows God has done for her and for the people of God.
And to her God is not just power but goodness itself.
In Mary’s eyes, to be caught up in the doings of God is to be blessed,
no matter what the cost to her.
Sure, many will scorn, but for her what matters is that she is on God’s side.

She does not see God working to shore up the status quo with all its unfairness’s.

She sings out of her observation of the real world.
Herod is on the throne,
a man of great achievements and power.
But his court is opulent when many live a subsistence lifestyle.
All around the rich are getting richer whilst life is difficult for the poor.
And this,
along with a shaming of those at the bottom,
is made possible in large part by the collaboration of the religious establishment with the ruling elite.

Against all of this, Mary sings her song.
That God is intervening in the world through the baby that she bears means that the world can never be the same again.
This baby is not simply about tickets for heaven.
To suggest that such is the sole purpose of the Incarnation is demeaning and to miss the point.
He comes to bring change to both society and to our hearts.
He comes bringing the Kingdom of God,
which cannot but confront the exploitative kingdoms of this world.

Mary does not beat about the bush!
She sings about a totally different way of being and living.
This is about the vision of Kingdom values where peace, justice and mercy meet,
where all are valued as children of God.

It is about a new way of life where we look for signs of the Kingdom whilst awaiting the climax of history when God’s Kingdom will come in power.

It is about the now, and the not yet.

Of course the people of God can face resistance when they take this vision seriously.
We live in a world facing many challenges.
The global economy is close to collapse.
Environmental crisis means that our living as we do may be painfully paid for by future generations.
And around us we see terrible suffering through conflicts and wars between nations and within nations.

And there are no easy answers.

However, I encourage you to take the Magnificat seriously with its challenge to the accumulation of power and extreme differences in wealth and opportunity between the well off and the poor.
I encourage you to take seriously the Magnificat with its belief that God is concerned passionately for the needs of those counted as least rather than for the greeds of those counted as the greatest.

As we come to this third year,
a year where I hope we will care,
we would do well to use this song of Mary as a guide to what really matters,
and how we might move closer to our vision,
to build God’s Kingdom here on earth as in heaven.