Advent Devotional – Wednesday, December 23

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Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay
Week 4: Peace, Love and Hope

Reflector: Jessica Harbeson

I have always loved the Song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat. One reason I feel such closeness with this text is that I’ve sung it many times over the years; I’m a choral singer, and many composers throughout history have felt inspired to set this colorful text. I can understand the appeal. This powerful statement from Luke’s Gospel paints a picture of a world characterized by a reversal of norms, unexpected outcomes, the opposite of what one might expect. Take this sentence, for example: “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.” This is not the usual order of things in our world!

Mary understood that the life growing in her belly was not going to stand for the status quo, the continuation of life as she had always known it. Rather, this child of God would be filled with God’s peace, love, and hope, and would bring that divine peace, love, and hope to those living with him on earth. In working toward God’s peace on earth, Jesus had to disturb societal norms that were steeped in inequality. One way that he did this was by offering love and caring to people from all walks of life; this love, in turn, brought them hope that they could live differently, and change their lives and their world.

God is still working in today’s world. He still offers us his peace, love, and hope, both through the teachings of Jesus, and in the people we interact with each day. As Christians, we are called to continue to disturb the status quo when we see systems that only benefit the few, not the many; when we witness racial injustice; when we observe homophobia or transphobia; when we see disregard for the well-being of our natural world; when we notice ways of being in the world that exclude people rather than include them. Each time we take a step to “lift up the lowly,” we are conduits of God’s peace and love, and we bring hope to those whose lives we touch. This reversal of norms is good and holy work.

Prayer: Loving God, help us all to be peaceful but persistent disturbers of any systems that keep our human siblings from living their best lives, and help us do our “disturbing” work infused with your peace, love, and hope, so that we might share that peace, love and hope with those around us. Amen.