Past, tense; future Perfect.

Where does the frightened young mother go, when faced with the impossible?
She runs for comfort to family – off to the hills to see cousin Elizabeth –
who surely will understand (being pregnant herself)

her world has just become very complicated – a baby – an angel
– a promise both wonderful and horrible,
Elizabeth welcomes her with joy, and then they fall to reminiscing.
Blessed are you, she says, who believes what she has heard.

Blessed are you that you trusted God in this difficult time
– with this difficult news.
Too frightened to consider the future – too overwhelmed to plan,
too surprised to think ahead, Mary’s response is to remember – to rejoice in what God has done.
Her words surround her and her unborn child with confidence
– she finds her courage in what has been – in what God has done:
God has spoken – has looked with favour – has done great things (for me)
– has shown strength, has scattered,
has brought down, and lifted up
– filled, sent, helped, remembered.
So maybe it is safer to recall past glories – to cling to the past
It is all too tempting for us.
When situations challenge us, when new ideas frighten,
when the future is uncertain and unattractive,
we run to the scrapbook – the photo album, to our collective history
looking for comfort, assurance and safety.

And our history can sustain us and give us strength, – our past encounters with God,
the delight of discovery,
the joy of exploration of our faith, of Scripture –
all these things seemed somehow more glorious then..
So, in our wisdom, we cling to familiar patterns of life;
to memories of church as it was,
to history, tradition and the “way we’ve always done things”

And in the process, we presume too little about the ways of God
and we pay little heed to the mystery of Christ
We forget, once we are comforted,
that God’s ways are not our ways.
Mary sings of the mercy and majesty of God
– revealed in the history of her people, And she does so, convinced that this history
is intimately connected with God’s present and future action,
God’s mercy and grace are not just shown in the past,
but experienced in the now,
The experience and remembrance of those things
-the work of God’s salvation of the Hebrew slaves,
their adventure through the wilderness
And the long slow possession of the promised land –
All these memories reveal God’s timeless faithfulness,
and contain God’s promise for the future.
Time is no obstacle – history is no barrier. Mary’s comfort is in God who is, was and always shall be.

This is our comfort too.
For we know all too well the comfort of a glorious memory.
The wonders of Christmas past –
The glory that was our youth.
Those wonderful times of promise and prosperity
that have now passed into family (and national) legend.

Comfort in past glory – that is what we cling to.
The church was full, Sunday was “the Lord’s day”
– young people were obedient and respectful.
You have heard it said –
or maybe even chosen to sing that song your selves.

But God will not be bound by our memories of the past.
Jesus is Lord of time and space as well
-Mary’s song is of (and to) God
whose past is concerned with our future.
This young mother would give birth
to One who is the bridge
between our past mistakes and our future glory.
We wait in hope this Advent,
not that our glorious past might be returned to us,
but that the memory of what God has done in Christ might inform our present and our future.
Blessed ARE you, Elizabeth said.
Not were, not will be, but are.
And blessed are we who wait on her Son.
Whose glory is, was and ever shall be –
World without end – Amen


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: