SING, SING A SONG - SERMON ON LUKE 1:29-55 AND MICAH 5:2-5A - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
A Sermon Delivered by
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, OKC
Advent IV, Year C
Micah 5:2-5a & Luke 1:29-55
“Sing, Sing a Song”
As we embark upon these last days of Advent and scurry to prepare for the festive celebrations of Christmas one can’t help but notice that you are bombarded with the sounds of the season. Be it the familiar sounds of Bing Crosby singing “Silver Bells” or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featured on OETA. There’s music in the air.
What would this time of the year be like if there were no music?
The joyous sounds of melodious voices blending in perfect harmony have a way of transporting us from winter’s cold, long and dark nights to a place of warm and sweet rapture. Music just has a way of doing that does it not? It truly is the universal language expressing our deepest longing in a way that our sometimes limited spoken words fail to achieve.
Now if that is true for us today, how true that must have been for predecessors who lived in ancient cultures that were totally dependent upon the “oral tradition” to exist.
Alan Cohen, who is the author of several self-help books, details in his book “The Heart of Wisdom” that when a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they sit under a tree to listen, pray and meditate until they hear the SONG of the child who wants to come into being. Upon return the midwives and elder women of the village teach the song to everyone else.
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, reaches puberty, and gets married the village gathers and chants the child's song.
Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world to the next, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at birth, and they sing the song for the last time.
Today's Gospel tells us of a pregnant woman who sings a SONG -- a SONG about her child, who he is, and who he will become.
Mary's song is her response to her cousin Elizabeth's spirited greeting, but it is more than that. It comes from deep inside her. It knits together in a new way the sacred experience and language and hope of her people like pieces of a quilt transformed from scraps to splendor.
Nowhere in this song do we hear the name of her child, but somehow he is there in every phrase. Mary's song is not hers alone; it is the song of the child who wants to come and who comes to do the will of God through his life, death, and exaltation. The song celebrates the God who keeps promises -- not only to Abraham, but to everyone.
It is no wonder the Church has picked up this central song - the Magnificat, Mary’s Song and sings it often, particularly in daily evening worship. Who knows what number of settings musicians have composed for it through the years? Who knows how many voices have joined with Mary’s in singing her song through the centuries?
For this is the song about Jesus sung by the human being who knew him best, influenced him most, who cradled him in her arms at birth and faithfully held him in her arms after death.
It is the Magnificat - that dares to announce that God scatters the prideful, dethrones the powerful, and drives away the rich.
It is the God of the Magnificat – that takes sides, lifting up the lowly, providing a feast for the destitute.
It is the Magnificat - which points to a redemption achieved once for all, but that continues to unfold wherever the Good News takes root. Yes, the radical overthrow of oppression that Mary's song proclaims turns out to be a “song of revolution.”
Richard Horsley writes in his book “The Liberation of Christmas: The Infancy Narratives in Social Context” that this hymn is not so much a pious prayer: as it is a revolutionary song of salvation.
A revolutionary song of salvation not unlike, “We Shall Overcome”, Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and others sung in the 60’s, when seemingly lowly groups of people in this country sought to overthrow the violence, oppression and injustice that had come upon them.
My friends, if the truth be told, each of us sings a song from deep inside, a song about the future.
What we sing with our lives, will become our legacy for those who follow after us.
Mary's Song is our song because she invites us all to join in the song of the God who loves us enough to come to us-to the most barren, the most unnoticed, the very least of us-and plants in us, and in our world, God's own life, God's own hope, and God's own promises of peace.
So, what will our song be? When I was a child there was a song that I would listen to when I watched Sesame Street penned by the musical group the Carpenter’s. It was called “Sing, Sing A Song”
Some of you who were around back in the 70’s might remember the lyrics.
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.
Sing. Sing a song.
Make it simple to last your whole life long.
Don´t worry that it´s not good enough for anyone else to hear.
Sing a song.
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