Saturday, December 22, 2012

And blessed is she that believed

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
 (Revelation 19: 6)

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.
 (Revelation 11: 15)

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
 (Revelation 19: 16)


Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

Two women meet in a hill town. One is old. One is young. Both, improbably, are pregnant.

Outside this room it may be noisy, with premature, superficial celebration, but inside this room, in quiet triumph, anticipation and hope, two women meet: one old, one young. One is past the age to bear a child. One for whom it would be physically impossible. Yet – here they are. And they know the promise of God.

The word of God runs strong in their family, their tribe, their nation – and their world.

Two women.

Two babies.

And the world changes.

Not just for these women. Or these two boys. For us, for our salvation.

Not just this change, but also a transformation of time.

The crucial event of world history is coming – and they welcome it: the promise of ages they help to bring into being.

Two obscure women in a hill town in Palestine, at the center of the world.

Faith completed, hope fulfilled, and gratefulness offered.

Having received grace upon grace, Mary could say, I am become an instrument of peace.

Having received from his fullness grace upon grace (John 1:16), we can say: let us become instruments of his peace.

The kingdom of God is being born within us, as we bear Christ into the world.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God is at work, reconciling all things to himself. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Hope confirmed. Promise fulfilled. And together, the two women celebrate.

What Mary knows, Elizabeth proclaims: Mary’s blessing begins with Mary’s believing.

Blessed is she who believed that God’s word would be fulfilled in her.

Mary put full confidence in God’s promise. Her reliance upon it was total and complete.

The blessing begins with faith. Mary kept faith her whole life – even up to and through the crucifixion of her son – that somehow this all had meaning and purpose, that it was within the will of God.

God has done – is doing – will always do – great things; God is holy; God is merciful.

Listen to The Song of Miriam – celebrating the deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh:

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:

‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’                                     (Exodus 15:20-21)

Are these women powerless and marginal? No longer. The triumph of God is upon them.

The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of the Lord, and of his Christ.

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.  (Revelation 11: 15)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15: 57)

This victory is not his alone: for all people who hold him in awe, all who ‘fear him’, shall share in the promise. The question is: how shall we share in the victory?

If God be for us, who can be against us?  (Romans 8: 31)    

How shall we share in the victory?

Look again at Mary, and her cousin Elizabeth. Obedience, openness to God’s word, faithful waiting, and willingness to accept God’s plan and trust him to carry it out.

Not knowing the details, not asking for guarantees, they are not merely passive recipients but active partners in the fulfillment of God’s plan, the action of his mercy.

They have known, their people have known for centuries, that God’s salvation was coming. In this obscure corner of the hills, they kept hope alive.

Messiah would come – and he has!

With the certainty of a done deal, Mary proclaims God’s triumph as past action. He has done what he promised.

And so … it would be … and is, now, when we open ourselves in trust to the coming of God’s word among us.

It may mean waiting through a dark night – or a Son’s death.

It will mean obedience – perseverance, patience, faithfulness –
and true glory.

How shall we share in the victory?

How do we help God’s kingdom of justice and peace to become established among all people? We might start by:

Doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

Keeping faith that what the future may bring, God will bring.

And he is good.

Behold thy servants, Lord: let it be unto us according to thy word.


CAdvent4, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Micah 5:2-5a, Canticle 15,  Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45, (46-55), Magnificat,

Robert Fuller, Homilies from the Heart, Year C, St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, Tucson, Ariz. (

Br. Abraham, "Leonard, Sheldon, and Penny Discuss the Implications of the Incarnation," Abbey Letter No. 252, Christmas 2012, St. Gregory's Abbey, Three Rivers, Mich. ( 

Martin Luther's Christmas Book, Roland H. Bainton, ed. (Augsburg Fortress, 1950)

2012 December 23, for Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Wash.

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