Sermon Summary, 12/17/17, “The Joy of a Savior” (Luke 1:39-53)
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Lk 1:52-53) This passage has always bothered me. Certainly compared to the peasant girl, Mary, I am one of the rich if not also one of the powerful. By this time Mary had everything going against her, yet she sings this powerfully joyful song we call the “Magnificat” (Latin for magnify). “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” The joy of a Savior.
How is it we make ourselves happy? We live in most privileged society the world has ever known, yet we are ever increasingly treated for depression, despondency, addiction. We certainly have rich and powerful who are not happy: Harvey Weinstein is not happy, Al Franken is not happy, Roy Moore is not happy, and as I write this, a Kentucky state representative has committed suicide over sexual allegations.
What is it that makes us happy? We find from our scriptures that like grace, in fact related to grace, joy is a gift. Joy is something we are given. Joy is something we cannot do for ourselves. If we reflect, we will find that our greatest moments of joy are moments that happen to us, not what we do ourselves. My personal understanding of joy is the deep assurance that God is at work in our lives.
If we return to the announcement of Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1:26f), we find “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.” (NRSV) Or “Hail! Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” (KJV) Greetings and Hail are translated from the Greek, “Chairo” which is related to grace, “Charis” (Gk). Chairo is more often translated “Rejoice!” “Favored” in from the Greek, “Charitoo,” also related to grace, meaning “endowed with grace or joy.” We could translate this, “Rejoice! Mary, full of joy, the Lord is with you.” Joy! The joy of a Savior.
Mary responds in verse 38, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Two things: servant, Mary has great humility; and two, she is filled with generosity, giving all that she has, her very self. How is it that we, the rich and powerful are fill with joy? My placing ourselves in a position to receive it like grace, being humble (rather than thinking less of ourselves, thinking less about ourselves) and being generous, giving.
Paul tells us (Phil 2:4f) “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”: humility and generosity. From that we receive the joy of a Savior!