Today we turn an Advent corner; we have listened and prepared our hearts for the Second coming of Christ in these last weeks, praying and hoping for the time when God’s holy kingdom would become a new and present reality in our world. Today, we begin to celebrate and embrace the first coming of God’s Christ. We cannot celebrate this incredible event without preparing our hearts to receive the news of the angels and shepherds; for the birth of God into the world is truly a mystery and miracle of God’s own dreaming. But, more on that tonight… This morning, we are still preparing, and we hear the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her visit with the angel Gabriel. What an amazing story. Mary does not take the news from the angel without question. Her “yes” to God comes after some discernment and questioning. She will not be anyone’s fool. I have always chuckled at the angel’s words to “not be afraid”. Mary’s questions to the angel, her “how can this be?” tells me that she knows she should indeed be afraid. What the angel is proposing is dangerous. Her very life is on the line because by law, a young, pregnant, unmarried woman would be shunned by her family and could be stoned to death. And yet, as the angel speaks of the holiness of the child she shall bear, and the miracle of birth her cousin Elizabeth is about to experience, Mary knows that God has chosen her. She responds without the need to check with her fiance, or her parents, all of whom have power over her. Rather, God recognizes her faith, and knows that she is able to answer for herself as to whether she wants to participate in God’s plan. Today we also have heard and recited together the great song of Mary, the Magnificat. It is a regular part of the prayers for Evening prayer in our tradition, but it is especially good that we say those words today. Mary’s song, that she sings as she and her cousin Elizabeth celebrate God’s miracle of pregnancy for both women, is not just some sweet song coming from a young pregnant girl. Make no mistake; these words are prophecy; these words are powerful. Mary, whom we have so often made to be meek and mild and weak, is anything but. She has questioned the angel of God, she has taken on responsibility to be the Mother of God’s holy son, the God bearer, she has traveled to see her older, pregnant cousin and to share in the joy of the birth of Elizabeth’s son, as John’s birth prepares her for the birth of her own child. The Magnificat is a song of resistance; it is the song of a woman who is all too familiar with the death dealing power games of the empire, and even the temple. Mary’s song makes it clear that she knows as much as she is able, that she is about to enter into a subversive life where she and her son will always be at odds with those in power; and yet, she still said yes. She said yes to God becoming incarnate, to God taking on human flesh; she said yes to the poor receiving good news; she said yes to God’s kingdom beginning here on earth; she said yes to the rich and powerful being cast down when their choices crushed God’s people under their feet. Mary is no meek and mild child to be manipulated by the men in her life; and yet that is what we tend to lift up, that is what we tend to praise about her in our hymns and in our artwork. She is always seen as obedient; she is always tidy, and sweet, and well dressed. The picture that we have painted of her is a lie; I can only imagine that the journey to Bethlehem was painful and dirty… the birth of her holy son was anything but tidy because the birth of a human being is anything but clean and meek and mild; but that is how God chose to break open the heavens and enter the world… in the messiness that we all enter the world in. Being born among stable animals would be anything but tidy and sweet; And as Mary brought him forth in blood, and water, in sweat and in tears, her song still stirred in the heavens. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; * for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: * the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him * in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, * he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, * and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, * and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, * for he has remembered his promise of mercy, The promise he made to our fathers, * to Abraham and his children for ever. May her song reach out to us and help us to be bearers of Christ in the world. May we sing with her, realizing that we too are being asked to bring God’s dream into the world; may we too, know that the song we sing in praise of God is one of subversive, dangerous, love for Jesus and for the world that he loves. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son… may we prepare our hearts to receive him, and to be God bearers until he comes again. May we be bold in our yes to bearing God’s dream and promises to the world… Come O Come, Emmanuel.