Well, for many people, this Sunday is one in which we can find a way to pray and meditate on the Scriptures in the cozy comfort of our homes. So, make sure to spend a few moments to worship today, whether you are able to be "at church" or not. Because "the church" is not merely the place that may or may not be totally snowed in today, rather, "the church" is the people of God...even if we may be scattered physically, even if we are on Facebook (!), even if we are blogging, even if we are reading our Bible, taking care of our loved ones, and playing in the snow, helping those in need, or mourning a loss.
So, today, be the Church, wherever you may be. A good place to spend some time is to read and reflect on the Magnificat!
But first, the Collect for today:
The Collect for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Song of Mary Magnificat
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
My friend Steve at Draughting Theology has found through some online research that the verb tense in the Magnificat is one that does not merely connote the "past," but rather a tense in Greek that has to do with the fact that God did these things in the past, is doing these things now, and will be doing these things always. So, when you read "He has," this really should be read "He has, and is still doing, and will always be doing..."
I wonder how this way of reading the Magnificat might change the way we hear it, the way we understand it, and the way we live out this prayer. Because, for sure that one of the most important aspects of Christmas and the Incarnation is not that God became human in Jesus once in the past, but that God has now made the world God's home. God is no longer merely a distant and transcendent God, but is a God that has become human, and remains an integral and living force in the world.
Have a blessed day!
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey