A song of hope
Advent 4 (C) – Adapted from The Rev. Phil Hooper for St. Luke’s in the Meadow – The Rev. Karen Calafat 12.19.2021
The Magnificat – Mary’s Song of Hope – the perfect lesson to conclude our readings for Lessons and Carols. Mary’s song is a lesson, but also a carol – a song of hope.
The Rev. Pauli Murray once wrote that “hope is a song in a weary throat.”
The Rev. Phil Hooper says, “Amid this hopeful season, amid this weary age, we would do well to consider what such a song sounds like. It’s easy to miss sometimes, the hope-song, because it doesn’t always sound the way we might expect. We are too easily distracted by the proud aria or the ironic riff to listen for the soft, tremulous music that hope makes.
The song of hope is faithful. It is honest. It is the song one offers up when the song is all that’s left to offer.
As we travel with Mary to Elizabeth’s house, remember that there is a fearful precariousness to her position. She is a young woman walking uphill in every sense of the word, seeking the comfort of a familiar face when everything else has suddenly become so very unfamiliar. Mary was determined to give voice to what was true, even when her life seemed to be caught in uncertainty.
She sings, and it is indeed hope in a weary throat, reverberating into eternity: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
God has chosen to take part in this world through Mary and Mary sings!
And so, too, on this day of Lessons and Carols, we sing!
We sing though we are weary, though we are frightened, though we are uncertain, because in the singing we place ourselves within a story, not just a circumstance. We sing songs of victory, not of victimhood. We may struggle to accept hard truths and yet are bearers of hope.
Mary knows what must be sung. Her song belongs to history and to the present. It belongs to all of us. It is ancient and it is new. Mary’s song of hope is forever.
And thanks be to God because we need hope-songs now, just as desperately as Mary did then.
We sing, even when our throats are dry, and our voices are garbled by tears… We sing to show the world that we are more than our present circumstances.
Mary’s voice is calling out -- calling out to you. So wherever you find yourself, follow the sound of the hope-song. Let it guide you into the place of encounter with the Holy One who calls you onward.
Mary has shown us the way. She has shown us that while hope may be well-acquainted with weariness, it points beyond it, too, toward the place and time when a new song will be born—one of hope fulfilled, of rejoicing, and of rest.
The Rev. Phil Hooper was ordained to the priesthood in 2019 and currently serves as Curate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A native of the west coast and a graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific (M.Div., 2019), he is passionate about spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, and the ways that these things impact our discipleship. Outside of church, you will likely find him in a local bookshop or on a road trip exploring the Midwest. His sermons and other writings are available at www.byanotherroad.com.
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