And it is quite the song.
It’s sung with joy, and it’s been sung often since.
But be careful, singing this song may have unforeseen
Velvet Revolution story
The protesters in Leipzig in 1989 knew (the power of
singing) well. While that element sometimes gets overlooked in the histories of
the “velvet revolution,” it’s striking to note that for several months
preceding the fall of the Berlin wall, the citizens of Leipzig gathered on
Monday evenings by candlelight around St. Nikolai church – the church where
Bach composed so many of his cantatas – to sing, and over two months their
numbers grew from a little more than a thousand people to more than three
hundred thousand, over half the citizens of the city, singing songs of hope and
protest and justice, until their song shook the powers of their nation and
changed the world. Later, when someone asked one of the former officers of the
Stasi, the East German secret police, why they did not crush this protest like
they had so many others, the officer replied “We had no contingency plan for
song.” (David Lose “In the meantime…” 2015)
But in the DDR in the 80’s (Tim visited and heard this for
himself) it was a well-known, unknowable, among church leaders and government
Eric Honecker, leader of the DDR, and Bishop Schönberger,
knew each other, and respected each other. They had both been in concentration
camps under the Nazis.
Honecker and Schönberger had an
arrangement, that the church could be the pressure relief valve for the state,
Well the lack of contingency for singing
was known well among church leaders, and known as an intentional ‘lack of
preparation’ by Honecker. Together and so as not to be documented, the two
leaders planned for the fall of East Germany back into a reunified Germany.
One still needs to be careful when
one chooses to sing, especially if one choose to sing as Mary does.
Bit first the other lessons,
because they set the stage for us to better appreciate Mary’s simple song.
Today our song is from the Psalm:
Restore us, O God. Let your face
shine upon us, and we shall be saved!
Shining face: the image from winter sun
Fill it in
It is so good to bask in God’s shining in on us, knowing we
will be saved.
Which just about sets the stage for a good nap.
A sign of God’s presence
Amidst the challenges, to be able to rest in peace, or
rather rest peacefully, when one’s enemies would prefer one rested in peace.
And after the nap, restored almost as good as new, we move
on with our busy days.
The promise of a political solution for the very present
like of old
Use of his words for more:
Beyond political solution
Jesus, a very not
political solution to the timeless challenge of scapegoating and sin, which is
more than any political solution could be.
If you think Hebrews is beyond comprehension, good for you.
It is written just as obscurely as the complicated laws of Jesus’ day: and no
one understood it then either.
Jesus, Last Sacrifice, a new justice
But the point of Hebrews: that’s clear
Jesus is the one time sacrifice,
who replaces blood sacrifice and in decipherable webs of
One sacrifice, one salvation for all people, for all time.
Old [sic] [in]justice
In those days then, with the complicated laws, Justice was
who knows you, not what you do, since no one can keep the law. Not much has
changed with civil law – for some people who are guilty, despite what the
evidence is that should exonerated them. And our jails are filled with native
men, and innocent men falsely charged by their intimate partner.
What’s gone wrong with us? We use to do this to women, allow
a man put her away for nothing, or for nothing keep her drugged for decades in
a mental institution. Now it’s men. What’s wrong with us?!
All have and do and will sin
Still now, no one can keep God’s laws, no one good enough to
earn God’s favour.
We need God’s saving action now and now again and again
Restore us, O God. Let your
face shine upon us, and we shall be saved!
More than once in history, tyrannical rulers have banned the
singing of this song, for it is revolutionary, in the political sense.
[Story of song
Mary Sings a song. As all songs of faith well
composed and well sung Mary sings a REVOLUTIONARY song.
Not just that God inspires us to revolve, to
repent, to turn about and follow Jesus, instead of walking our own way and
demanding that God follow us.
This is revolutionary, as in More than a few
oppressive rulers have prohibited the use of this song.
The start is fitting.
Mary’s spirit rejoices. What better way to
start singing of God’s presence in our lives.
LOWLY … GOOD NEWS
Mary realizes that God has taken a turn from
power to the powerless.
God looks to the lowly servant, Mary, caught
pregnant before being married.
And she expects to be called great, not for
what she has done, but for what God has done to her.
This God is not the God of judgment that so
many people fear without love. This is the God of mercy from generation to
God has great strength, and chooses to show it
MIGHTY, THE OTHER KIND OF GOOD NEWS
But not to build up or sustain those with power
and wealth, and pride,
But to scatter them with their thoughts of how
great they are, thoughts so mistaken that they are just plain foolish, even if
they carry their own day, or seeming carry the day until God scatters their
thoughts and meager accomplishments as if they were seeds of weeds that are
despised by all who see them grow.
The rulers are replaced.
Which is why many unjust rulers prohibit, under
severe punishment, the singing or use of this song.
But to whom does God go?
Or from our perspective, to whom does God come?
God lifts up the lowly.
God feeds the hungry, with not just cheap food, but the good
stuff, the nourishing food that makes for health and good life.
But The Rich God sends away empty handed.
This revolution changes all power and privilege.
So that those caught in the bottom of injustice
The lowly Can sing loudly, for all to hear,
That God has come,
In Mary’s and Elizabeth’s day God comes to Israel,
today to us, to whomever and where ever we are.
God comes to us keeping the promises he made to
Abraham, for we also are By grace alone Counted Among Abrahams’ descendants …
God claims us, and makes us worthy of good
food, good life, fair treatment, and great hope.
Using the Magnificat can make life changed, can change life,
can bring us down if we are powerful, proud, and wealthy.
But it brings up those of us who are humble out
of necessity and position, wise but poor,
Who must count on God’s grace to survive each
For our good honest labour has not netted us
luxury and privilege, so that we can rest instead of working to survive the
Whatever they are:
[fill in your choice, these were mine]
Enemies that want vengeance for things we never
Enemies that know nothing of who we are, except
that they hate us and want us dead.
Coworkers who are corrupt, or abusive, or mean,
or haughty and proud, or self-righteous and judgmental, or self-declared entitled. OR the challenges of
Disappearing fish, species, glaciers, clean
water, honest people, friends … children
Cancer and other life taking diseases
Adjectives and Adverbs
“A young teacher landed her first job teaching
children in a large city hospital. She taught those young patients who missed a
lot of school. She developed a routine. When she received a student’s name, she
first phoned the child’s regular school teacher to find out if there were any
particular areas the child needed to work on.”
“One ordinary day her list included a
12-year-old boy named Tommy. When she spoke to his teacher, she discovered that
Tommy needed to work on his grammar – particularly adverbs and adjectives. So
she planned a lesson and took it up with her to the boy’s room.”
“The teacher, being fairly new to the hospital,
only first realized when she arrived on the floor that Tommy’s room was in the
burn unit. The sight of the small boy – terribly burned and in tremendous pain
– shocked her to her core. But not really knowing what else to do, the young
teacher began to work through her pre-prepared grammar lesson. The boy’s lips
slowly answered her questions and responded to her comments. In great pain,
together they completed the assignment.”
“After the lesson, the teacher fled from the
burn unit, certain that her grammar lesson had been a callous and useless
exercise. She was ashamed that she had not met Tommy’s obvious needs, somehow
“For the next few days the teacher avoided that
area of the hospital, not wanting to see Tommy or any of the staff who worked
with him. Then one morning she found herself in the elevator with the nurse who
had shown her the way to Tommy’s room.”
“‘What did you do to him?’ the nurse demanded.
Lost for words, the teacher just looked at the nurse, wishing she were any
place else. ‘What did you say?’ the nurse continued. ‘After you left, Tommy was
a changed boy. We had just about given up on him because he had given up on
himself. But his attitude was totally different after your visit. He started
fighting back, and now his prognosis is really very good. Come see him.’”
“In disbelief, the teacher allowed herself to
be led back to Tommy’s bedside. Sure enough, he was sitting up now. He was
still in pain, but he was smiling, and that smile reached his eyes. Tommy
explained to the teacher, ‘I thought I was going to die for sure. Then you
came. When you left I knew I couldn’t be dying. Who would bother to teach a
dying boy the difference between adjectives and adverbs?’” (source unknown)
Bad Genes and simply dirty jeans
Parents who need more than we can give,
children who are almost on their own.
Grandchildren who cannot seem to live a life
that is not confused and desperately chaotic.
Spouses who abuse and take everything we have
to give and more.
Institutions that are corrupt and decaying,
destroying people caught in their downward spiral.
Or plain Evil, in so many guises, tempting us
to be God, and to try (futilely) to make our own lives good enough for God.
Save us we cry, Save us we sing.
From all this we need to be saved, for we
cannot save ourselves, so we cry
Restore us, O God. Let your
face shine upon us, and we shall be saved!