December 11 – Third Sunday of Advent

Good morning!

Today’s scripture:
Luke 1:46b-55 (New Revised Standard Version)

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

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.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever

This morning we are talking about being joyful at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries.  We are even going so far as to say that we practice being joyful.  But how can we sing out joy when the world is as it is?  There are things going on in the world that are painful, dangerous, and just sad.  In our own lives we may be spending time worrying about money, relationships, or working hours.  We over commit and then fret about our hours.  We spend and then worry about our debt.  For some of you, trying to keep relationships in tact is stressful enough….or trying to just keep your head above water makes this whole joy thing pretty unrealistic.

And then we see Mary, the young woman who God chose to call into action so to speak.  She comes from a lowly town. She is young. She is scared and she travels to find someone who might understand.  When she reaches Elizabeth and her pregnancy is recognized no questions asked, she can’t help herself but to sing.  She sings of great joy from God and with confidence that God is a God who changes the world.  It doesn’t mean her situation gets any easier but it does mean that Mary is no longer alone and she can rejoice because of that.  It also doesn’t mean that everything is joyful but in community and in song, she can practice being joyful.
I have come to believe that community is essential to finding our joy.  To find moments of joy, we are called to practice things that make us smile and move our deepest hearts but when we join with others, to help carry our other stuff, we can truly lift up song.
Last night I had the great privilege of singing with amazing women.  The McMinnville Women’s Choir made our debut and invited Jublilate, the Women’s Chorus of Corvallis to join us in song.  We all had our sets.  There was something extremely joyful about when we all combined, all 65 or so of us, to sing together that created much joy.  There was also something about our smallish group joining in our own voices to create community and joy.  I am convinced that singing helps us practice that.  
Today wherever you may be, please lift up a song somewhere to express joy…even if it can only be a sliver.  In the singing, perhaps more joy will be created.  If you go to church, remember that in community part of the experience is shared joy.  When that first hymn begins, lift up your joy in praise and thanksgiving for what God has done.
Prayer:  God we lift up our voices to you.  Use us to spread the discipline of joy in a drab world.  Use us, your servants, to create joy in others.  Support our lives so that we may sing out to you. Amen.
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