This is the sign of a good sermon. It makes me write things down-- not notes exactly, but thoughts triggered by the content. Good books do this to me too. In this sermon about the Magnificat, Pastor Bill started out talking about the fluff that surrounds Christmas, like the feel-good songs about chestnuts and sleigh bells and home for Christmas that never mention Jesus. He plays them for his granddaughters, and they dance. Sweet.
Did you know the Japanese decorate for Christmas as extravagantly as Americans, even though they have one of the smallest percentages of Christian believers in the world? So what do they have? Sparkly stuff, warm feelings, lights, fun. Scraps. Like crumbs under the table. Nice, as far as they go, but still scraps.
Mary's soul "glorifies the Lord." His glory is more than light. It's the essence of His being, which is real and dense and inexhaustible. (Cue Handel: "And the glory,the glory of the Lord, shall be revealed.") What surrounds that glory, what emanates from it, is beautiful and pleasant. In God's economy, even the scraps can be beautiful. Ice floes in Alaska have a stunning heart of ethereal blue that transfixes the eye. They are scraps that fall from the glaciers. Seashells riot with color and shape. I can't resist picking them up and taking a few home. They are scraps left over when their inhabitants die.
The ice floe melts. The shells I can keep, but what if I'd never seen the sea? And what if I'd seen all the Christmas lights, but never knew the one from Whom all good things emanate? Ultimately the sights and sounds are only disturbances in the air, and if that is all I know, then I have nothing. I can grab at more and more and more, but it has no more substance than the air. There is one who is the prince of its power. He wants us to focus only on the images and never on the real. "Don't look for the source. This is all there is," he insists.
No. Follow the light, the music, the joy, the love, the dancing children. Here is the source, the one true Lord, born a baby in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. Very God of very God. The light of the world. Jesus.