"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
The third Sunday in Advent is a day on which we celebrate Joy. For some this time of year, joy is abundant - found in the music, the lights, and the festivities of the seasons. For others this time of year, joy seems elusive - drowned out by obligation, financial strain, or general winter dreariness. At times joy seems fleeting - a spark in the darkness that doesn't quite catch fire - and other times it is a steady burning light that illumines all that is good in our lives.
Wherever you are with joy this season, it would do us good to look at our scripture passage today for a source of joy. Mary, the mother of Jesus, has traveled to visit Elizabeth, a relative and friend who is also pregnant, a few months ahead of Mary, with the baby who will become John the Baptist. Upon their meeting, the child in Elizabeth's womb leaps with joy, for he recognizes the child in Mary. Then, Mary speaks some of the most profound, prophetic, joyful words of scripture - often known as the Magnificat.
There's a popular song around this time of year called "Mary Did You Know" - I find the tune beautiful and the words haunting as they proclaim what the incarnation of Jesus will bring for the world. This year, there seems to be extra controversy surrounding this song, decrying it as "mansplaining" and saying if you read scripture (this passage in particular) you can see that Mary did indeed know what her Son would do for the world. And yet, a friend of mine pointed out that even given what scripture shows us she knew, it is still likely she grew into an understanding of Christ as the child within her and then before her grew.
Yes, Mary knew. And this knowledge brought her joy. As Christians we know, what Christ has done, is doing, and will do for this world. And this knowledge brings us joy. And yet, we forget sometimes, we lose that joy, sometimes. In the dark of winter, may we let the song of Mary and the truth of the coming of Christ spark joy for us this day and always.
God the origin of all sparks of joy, keep our hearts open for the joy that can be all around us this time of year. Help us to spark joy not just within ourselves, but in everyone we meet. We continue to wait for the ultimate joy of the Christ child, Amen.