Sit, breathe, let those shoulders drop, be present. With each breath go deeper within yourself for today on this 3 Sunday in Advent, Joy Sunday, we will enter into a world of prophecy, vision and dreams. For this, we need to see with the eyes of our hearts. So deep breath again.
Today our readings from Isaiah and Mary bring us into a world of prophetic joy. We have been hearing from Isaiah since the beginning of Advent and each week his words have led us to a vision of a world that is God’s vision. He tells of the highway that shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way. Where the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be on their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. This is God’s vision that we read of in Genesis: God saw everything that God had made and it was very Good.
Today he is joined by Mary as she sings the Magnificat, the divinely inspired revelation of the work of God in her and through her. Diedrich Bonhoeffer calls the Magnificat the oldest Advent Hymn. Contrasting Mary the prophet as the proud, surrendered, passionate woman prophet of the Old Testament; not the gentle, tender dreamy figure we see in paintings and statues. This Mary lives and breathes the dream of God. Her words make her the spokes woman for God’s redemptive justice which will be such a part of the gospel of her son, Jesus. She proclaims the great biblical theme of reversal where lowly groups of people are defended by God and the arrogant end up the losers.
Through the actions of the Messiah, who she carries within her, God’s mercy and care for the hungry, for the poor, for the disenfranchised will bear fruit. All will be well and all manner of things will be well because God’s love and care is faithful in all generations.
In these words which Mary sings and proclaims we are invited again to share in the dream of God. A dream fortold by the prophets down through the ages. That dream which began in the garden where everything that was created was very good.
We see God’s deam unfolding around us when the visions of our heart become the work of our hands. When we proclaim the value of all God’s children, when we work for justice and peace, for gun control and care for the hungry and the poor. We are part of the dream of God when people who are different from us are embraced and not feared.This is the dream of God we embrace with Isaiah and Mary. This is the dream we celebrate with the words, Rejoice, Rejoice and with the hymn, Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free….
For some this dream is a fantasy, a myth, and an impossiblility. For some this is all about a different place, a different reality, a remote place called heaven and not where we live today. But the dream of God, the vision of Isaiah and Mary is real. The dream of God is true. The dream of God is possible. For we have seen it and heard it and touched it. And today we do so again.
Today we come together here and all are fed with the food of God and none go away hungry. Here we embrace each other with the blessing of peace and none go away outcast. Here we are all forgiven and none go away shamed. Here we are truly who we are, the beloved daughters and sons of God not because of our gender or orientation, our wealth or our status but because we are all made in the image and likeness of God who has declared us very Good.
So the dream of God is real and we come here Sunday after Sunday to be reminded of that. We lift our hands in prayer and work because we want to experience God’s Kingdom today. Yes, the dream of Isaiah, Mary and God is real and it is our job to share it , work in it and with it and make it real for others. This is the work of our hands and our hearts. This is the dream of God.