Psalm 80:1-7, NIV

]Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us.

Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision[
b] to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Micah 5:2-5 The Message

But you, Bethlehem, David’s country, the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He’ll be no upstart, no pretender.
    His family tree is ancient and distinguished.
Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes
    until the birth pangs are over and the child is born,
And the scattered brothers come back home to the family of Israel.
He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength,
    centered in the majesty of God-Revealed.
And the people will have a good and safe home,
    for the whole world will hold him in respect—
    Peacemaker of the world!

Luke 1:39-55, The Message

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!

And Mary said, I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Our scriptures this week bring to light a community calling for God to rescue them from trouble…trouble which lasts years and years.  The Psalmist requests, “Let your face shine that we may be saved.  They have trusted God in the past and they believe God will rescue them again.

The picture in Micah 5 is of a simple town, being used by God at a particular time, through a particular people to achieve a significant result.  To anticipate the coming of the Messiah is to see and experience the wonder of his birth and be part of the radical change that God can bring through that which the world sees as insignificant. 

Mary’s song in our Luke reading is not just a sweet lullaby sung in anticipation of Jesus’ birth.  It is a message of deliverance and hope to a dark and fearful world.  Her song glorifies God’s presence and the promise of justice, mercy and grace and it continues to bring challenge and hope to us today. 

Our Advent theme for this week is, “Dare to Imagine God’s Face!” As the coming of the Messiah draws near, can we dare to imagine God’s face revealed to us in human flesh?  Can we allow ourselves to imagine that God’s face is Jesus in love?  In what way does Marion Mennonite Church make Jesus’s presence known to others and reveal his face of love?

Looking forward to talking with you more about this on Sunday!

Pastor Connie