Rev. Denise Peckham, Christ UMC Plano
The Christian story begins in darkness. God spoke into the darkness, and said, let there be light. And when God was finished creating, God saw all God had created and said it was very good. And it was very good, until human beings decided that being like God was not enough because they wanted to be God. The answer to a very good creation, to being the crown of creation, was rebellion, pride and misuse of power. And there was darkness once again.
Surely, we all know something about the darkness: Economic practices that steal the quality of life from the most vulnerable, systemic racism that excludes people of color from opportunities so many of us rarely think about, sexism that demeans our humanity, religious leaders who prey on children. It’s what leads many to wonder what ever happened to the promise of peace on earth.
Mary’s prophetic words, known as the Magnificat, were not merely a utopian vision for a better life. They are words that speak into the darkness and declare that God is good, that God has overcome the present and future power structures of society, and that God is redeeming and restoring all of creation to very good. Mary bears witness to God’s promise of peace.
Peace, however, will not come easily. Peace-making is a slow process that needs to be built on mutual trust, respect and understanding. In our angry and revenge-driven world, attitudes of mutual trust and respect seem to be undervalued or seen as a sign of weakness. Mary points to a reality that restores human dignity; it is not merely replacing one power structure with another, but a community built on the love of God and love of neighbor, no matter who they are, where they are from, or what their past looks like.
If we are to bear witness to the reality that God has come into our world to restore in us hope, peace, joy and love, then where else should it begin but with those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace.
- We have all learned the habits that come with rebellion, pride and the misuse of power. What would it take to learn the habits of mutual trust, respect and understanding?
- How might seeing one another as created in the image of God change the way we treat the stranger in our midst?