We enter the fourth week of Advent, this time with the theme of love. This Sunday traditionally focusses on Mary. To hear some of the back story to Mary and her son we take a break from Isaiah this week and instead hear David’s request of Nathan that he, David, build a permanent home for God in his, David’s, city. It was an astute political and religious move on David’s behalf – Jerusalem was his and his families, and it would tie God’s presence and action for ever with them. But God says taihoa, and instead offers to build David’s house and establish his family on the throne.
To move our attention to Mary, the gospel reading shifts again from Mark – our gospel of the year – this time to Luke. Luke is the one gospel to exalt Mary. The others are much more low key in their presentation. So on the day we traditionally focus our attention on Mary it is right to hear from Luke. Mary has been presented in a number of ways or is downplayed and ignored. Luke exalts Mary not as a mother, or as the ideal women, but as the ideal disciple. Luke presents Mary as the one we should emulate if we too wish to follow her son. Like her son, Mary responds to God’s outrageous request/command (does she really have a choice in this) with a combination of humble trust and obedient service – just like her son in Gethsemane.
We will not be reciting a psalm this week, and instead I invite you to read the Magnificat – the fruits of Mary’s initial pondering of all that is happening. This young girl from a poor family in a poor village in the outback of Galilee has become the vehicle for God’s work of salvation. The result is a protest song, in the tradition of protest songs by other prophetic women. In a world where it was understood that the poor were poor and the rich and powerful were rich and powerful because that is how God made things we have this powerful and prophetic song that speaks of the importance and priority of the poor in the eyes of God. God counters all the myths that hold the poor in their place of poverty and restores them as the people of God.
As we enter into the fourth week of Advent take a moment to think about what this song might say about our own society, our own world this Christmas. How does Mary help us embrace the way of love this Christmas? How does she invite us to join with her son in the Way of Love?