Music Sunday,December 16, 2018 Karen Bowles
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
God is my strength and my defence[;
God has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
In that day you will say:
“Give praise to God, proclaim God’s name;
make known among the nations what God has done,
and proclaim that the name is exalted.
Sing to God, for God has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
Both of the readings for today are expressions of joy. They are songs. They are both spontaneous outpourings of gratitude and they are both expressions of hope and songs of surrender to faith or trust – faith is simply from an old word for ‘trust’- both are songs of gratitude for the hope that pours out spontaneously when we surrender to trust or faith.
The one we just heard from Isaiah, a prophet of Judah, is first the voice of an individual, of one human experiencing a setting aside of fear and a momentary joyful expression of trust. If we heard it sung, we would hear the relief of the strength of surrender, of settling into trust, of connecting. It is a song declaration of clarity – a word, a state of being, I have heard defined as ‘momentum with no resistance attached’. This is a state of joy of moving forward with no ‘drag.’
A modern translation might be of this individual’s song might be:
‘God has made me aware that I am whole.
And out of that wholeness I will trust and have no need for fear
I will rest in the strength and circle of that awareness
I am made whole by awareness of God.’l
The second half in this passage is another song – the voice of the gathered community caught up in the joy and the relief and power of realizing we are not in control, yet we are not alone. We are in this wild jumble of life together and God is with us and they shout aloud and sing for joy.
This first passage for today was written long before Jesus. But the bubbling up of joy is the same no matter the century. We who wait in these four weeks to mark the miracle and joy of new birth, can hear the miracle and joy of the birth of faith found in the declaration we hear here of both individual and community clarity. All the earth is waiting yet again. And we sing.
Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s Song
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary’s song is a song of Joy as well. It is the song of Joy of one pregnant woman rejoicing in her present state. And so it mirrors the passage from Isaiah – it begins with those joy inducing words ‘My soul magnifies the lord and my spirit rejoices in God. If there was ever a recipe, a playbook for joy, this line is it. My soul magnifies the lord – I am home – my spirit rejoices in the lord – I am aware I am made whole. My soul magnifies God – what a wonderful way of putting faith. What a wonderful perspective to faith – giving one a sense of wideness not diminishment – of growth not narrowness.
But there the similarity ends. This is no hallmark card Mary – this is no meek and mild obedient Mary – this is a young woman – a girl by our standards – certainly she was no more than 15 – without money or any status – without power or position – insisting she is blessed – insisting on joy – insisting on the presence of God in her own life and in the life of her people. We heard the choir sing – Mary did you know? – No – she had no idea she was to give birth to the one we wait for, to this one they will call the Messiah – the Anointed One – but as his mother she prepared the way and made straight the path for his birth. She did not lie down or give in to despair – no, she gave us the longest speech by a female or a young one in the Christian testament. And what a speech it was. God is merciful to those who remember to trust, God will lay low those who are taken by pride, God will reward the humble and feed the hungry. And all said in song and all said in joy and all said in hope.
And we again would do well to listen and to hear as we wait in our day on this day of worship – of hearing what is worthy of song from our own younger ones. Witness Greta Thunberg from Sweden who addressed the UN conference on Climate change this week with the following words: ‘I do not care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.’
Or Emma Gonzales and David Hogg who after another mass shooting in the states are leading the fight for the sanity of gun control, or Gavin Grimm a trans youth stepping up for his community, and countless other young people – your children and mine.
In a speech Jane Goodall declared in part – ‘In this world of violence and fear, we must have hope for a better future. If we do not have hope we do nothing. Next to the human brain, the resilience of nature and the indomitable human spirit, it is young people who give me the most hope. We will only achieve our true human potential when head and heart work in harmony.
And our part – is to stay the course. To let our souls magnify God and our spirits rejoice in God, to let the words of this One on whom we we wait, guide our actions while we wait. Our part is to pave the way, to make straight the path. Mary’s head and heart were working in harmony. And it brought her joy and it brought her clarity and it will bring Jesus. From Paul’s letter to the Galatians hear these words of clarity: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’
We who wait, wait with joy and out of the clarity of faith, out of head and heart, we sing out to God together. I call on Wayne to lead us now.
welcome to the third sunday of Advent – a morning set aside as all sunday mornings for worship as a community. It is also this morning a sunday that in the christian calendar is known as guadet sunday – guadet being the latin word for rejoice or the sunday of Joy – and what better way to celebrate joy to rejoice than to sing – so this is also a Sunday we celebrate the joy we find in music. Wayne and the choir have a wonderful smorgasbord of music for us this morning – and we will have the opportunity to sing together the music of the season of advent together with some of the Christmas carols you have voted as your favourites.
Some of us are less inclined in our personalities toward spontaneous outbursts of joy. It was Yeats who said “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” But in music we can let down our hair and allow ourselves to choose joy
And it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said “Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” We are invited, no welcomed to access that fountain this morning.
If you are visiting – welcome – we hope you find this a good place to be – if you have a child under three, there is a staffed nursery through the doors to your left at the bottom of the main staircase. If you are a child over 3 or a youth – you are invited to worship here until you go downstairs to sunday school with Kristin following the choir carol I saw three ships as indicated in your bulletin. You will be returning here later in the service for a carol sing. Following the service we gather for coffee and conversation and spontaneous singing in the rooms next door.
And now a few announcements in the life and work of this community. I ask Bob Missen to come forward to share news of another musical event –
There was a service build this week for H for H and this week we also provisioned and packed 100 gift bags for meals on wheels recipients with Dixon hall. Thank you to all who participated.
And lastly, you may have noticed when you arrived this morning the wonderful goodie plates on the table at the back of the sanctuary. This are Christmas gifts for those in our community who do not get out to church very often. We ask if you are able to take a plate and an envelope and deliver the plate as you leave today. Our thanks to Penny McClure for preparing these again this year.
The flowers in the sanctuary this morning are in loving memory of Carl and Isla Vanstone from their family. And now Kristin will lead us in prayer as we move into this time of worship.