Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Advent 12/20/2015

This morning, our Choir will be lifting up the main message of the day, and, in introduction, I’ll be sharing a few thoughts about how our reading from Luke ties-in to the Cantata’s connected theme of “Cradle and Cross.”

Today, in Luke’s Gospel, we hear first about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, the mother of John-the-Baptist, and then we hear Mary’s “Song of Praise”, which is called the Magnificat.

We in the Lutheran Church are familiar with the words of the Magnicat because it is sung whenever there’s evening prayer, a time when one day is ending and a new “liturgical” day is beginning at sunset. And many of us know and love the Holden Evening Prayer Service by Marty Haugen: in the middle section of the Holden service, we listen to Mary singing, “My soul proclaims your greatness, oh God, and my spirit rejoices in you.” The Lord has looked with favor on a lowly servant, choosing an unknown, an ordinary young woman to be the mother of our Savior.

Mary sings not only of the blessings in her life, but about God’s vision of a world made right. The passion and enthusiasm of this teen-aged girl is not really what we expect from the meek and mild Mary that we envision, but here she is, singing about a world in which the last will become first and the first last. Society is going to be turned upside down: the oppressed freed, the hungry filled, and the rich turned away.  

I’ve read that, back in the 1980s, the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise, was banned by authorities in Guatemala. In the Latin American communities, people would read these words in the Bible and they would hear in this Good News that God did not want their children to die of hunger and disease, that God did not want their husbands and sons to “be disappeared,” or their daughters lost in poverty …  Back then, the Guatemalan authorities understood that all sorts of trouble can start when people get their hands on the Bible and read passages like the Magnificat.  Mary’s message deeply affects the poor, the oppressed, those who feel worthless.

Mary, the rebellious radical.

Choosing Mary is role reversal, turning the tables upside down. A peasant girl of very low social status. Young Mary – bearing God Incarnate – totally unexpected. Her social status is reversed as she is blessed and honored.  God isn’t seeking the high and mighty when God calls Mary to serve, but someone very much common and ordinary.

At this fourth week of Advent, we too, can be prepared to be called to serve – we who are common folk, each of us facing our own particular challenges, we who are regular people, living somewhat unexciting and uninteresting lives. God can take people like you and me, and work through us to make a difference in the lives of others. God, in Christ, continues to be active in this world, and we have a role to play. Each of us.

Soon Advent will give way the long-awaited Messiah. On his way from the cradle to the cross, Jesus will push away the great and mighty of his world in order to elevate the common people. In faith, we will discover the Savior who humbles the haughty and lifts up the lowly and invisible.

And now let us hear the Choir as they present to us their Cantata, “Cradle and Cross.”

Vicar Terry Frankenstein


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
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one who
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