Mary’s Song is Advent’s Song, and Sings Us to Action All Year Long
The below was written initially as a FB post this morning, but I’m compelled to post it as a blog.
It is clear that I am upset with this present administration.
If it is possible to find this tax bill consonant with the Gospel, then I will rescind my blog and my opinions.
My concern, as the blog begins to address, is that Christians have bifurcated faith and politics.
In short, if you say that Father/Son/Holy Spirit is your God, then everything—everything—is claimed by that identification; even—and, in these days, perhaps pressingly—your politics.
I do believe that in her song, Mary teaches us to harmonize both our faith and our politics in the name of God, her—and our—Savior.
Last night’s GOP Tax Bill win falls on silent Christians and Christian leaders who have dropped the prophetic ball.
Read Mary’s song, the one Jesus’ mother sang, the one that we’ll be hearing this Advent season:
Luke 1:46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
We have not feared God, and last night there was no mercy.
This text, this hymn, sung by a poor young woman, is nothing if not political.
It sings of faith in a God who sides with the powerless, the humble, the hungry, and the poor.
It isn’t as if God just looks at these vulnerable people and says, “Oh, aren’t they sweet,” while shaking the divine finger at the powerful, and the proud, and the fed, and the rich.
And, contrary to all too much American Christianity, it certainly isn’t a message that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and approval.
Mary’s song picks up on the prophetic tradition of Amos, Isaiah, Micah.
It foreshadows her son’s active shoulder-rubbing with the Least of These, and therefore his tangles with the politics of the day that landed him on the cross.
It lays the foundation for the people of Acts who created society where all had enough.
And it was inspiration for the likes of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Óscar Romero, Dorothy Day, Helen Prejean….
We are at a pivot point in our Democracy, and in our Christian tradition.
If you are able, but still not proclaiming or engaging in social action, even as much as making a phone call or sending an email on behalf of those whose lives are threatened by policies which threaten the powerless, the humble, the hungry, and the poor, and which instead empower all the more the powerful, the proud, the fed, and the rich, you are doing it wrong.
If you sing Mary’s song with heartfelt adoration this Advent, if you listen and earnestly nod to last week’s Matthew 25 text which speaks about acting on behalf of the Least of These, if you faithfully go to Church every Sunday and perhaps even sing in the choir…
And conversely, if you preach about faith, forgiveness, and love…
…and don’t make or see the connections between a risen Savior who by his very resurrection condemns all that deals death, and confirms all that he did while walking the dusty paths of his days, things quite consonant with his mother’s song: calling out by name—and even insult—those who exploit the poor; turning up the tables on those who wield power like a weapon; feeding those desperate for food and for hope;
…and instead remain silent, using your pulpit time for sermon-ready jokes, or instead use your social media time to only post cute pictures of cats and cakes and unicorns;
…and instead think that your faith only has to do with you and what happens to you after you croak;
…and instead refuse to rock the boat of your congregation for fear that conflict might ensue;
….all the while the present GOP, in the dark of the night, dismembers our democracy, and in their very policies—and often blasphemously IN THE NAME OF JESUS—call into policy the very things that Mary sings that God opposes, then you are doing it wrong.
You have missed the implications of the Gospel.
Jesus’ resurrection has been reduced to nothing more than a diamond-studded cross around a neck.
The Lutheran in me says that we don’t have to be engaged in social action.
We don’t have to be engaged in truth-telling and advocacy for our own personal salvation.
But the gospel isn’t just about you.
Jesus announced that it was for all people.
So no, we don’t have to be engaged in truth-telling and advocacy for our own personal salvation.
God will redeem even our inaction, and forgive us too.
But I do believe that the prophets, and the Gospel, and Mary tell us that God. Is. Pissed.
God is paying attention to what you do, and what you don’t do, both in the pulpit, and what you do after you leave the pew.
We don’t have to be engaged in truth-telling and advocacy, but we are freed to be, we are called to be, we can’t help but be if we want to sing Mary’s words with any integrity, and want to call ourselves Christ-ians, ambassadors of the risen Jesus’ agenda to act on behalf of the powerless, the humble, the hungry, and the poor, and call out by name the powerful, and the proud, and the fed, and the rich, and the policies which aid them, and only them.
With that, the battle for this abomination of a tax bill is not over.
Precisely in the name of your faith, call your Representatives and Senators here: (202) 224-3121.
Relentlessly call them.
In the name of your faith, relentlessly call them.
Here is the number again: (202) 224-3121
And then let the beginning of this Advent, this new Church year, this New Year, begin a year of singing, and enacting, Mary’s Song.
Lest one think I’m making up the connection between faith and politics, a few additional resources for Christian protest against this tax bill:
“The US will soon face the consequences of a #TaxBill that takes money from the poor to give to the rich. Those who voted for it will face consequences later, when they are judged. Do you think Jesus’s words about being judged on how we care for the poor don’t apply? Think again.” James Martin, SJ, Jesuit Priest
A signed letter from over 2,400 ecumenical Faith Leaders sent to Senators McConnell and Schumer;
A protest from Clergy in the Senate Office Building, many of whom were arrested;
Bread for The World and other Social Justice and Denominational Leaders have created the Circle of Protection;
The Boston Declaration, signed by theologians across ecumenical lines;
National Council of Churches Letter signed by Faith Leader;
Sojourners Magazine lists grounding and strategies for Resistance born precisely out of faith.