I love the canticle of Zechariah and the Magnificat – songs from the Christmas stories that we read and remember during Advent. They’re both in Luke’s first chapter, and they are both songs composed by regular people who got caught up in divine situations – songs of praise and prophecy. Zechariah sings about the history of God’s salvation, and predicts peace:
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Mary sings justice:
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.
There are a bazillion Christmas songs, some of them good and some not so good. I don’t know that we need another, but I thought I’d attempt my own canticle this morning (but now, having attempted, I am reluctant to hit publish because I want to edit and re-shape each stanza but I don’t have time. Such are the boundaries of this flash-writing practice.). So: a canticle-in-progress:
My soul searches for the Lord, and my spirit longs for liberation.
God’s movement has freed us, led us out of Egypt and through the wilderness, dried up rivers and unseated kings. God has made ways where there were no ways, fed us with manna from the sky, brought forth springs of water in the middle of arid deserts.
God’s mercy and power have kept us. She has gathered us under her wings. She has created us in our mothers’ wombs. She has counted the hairs on our heads and anticipated every word before we spoke any of it. When we fainted and faltered, She grabbed our elbows. When we were tempted to throw in the towel, She whispered words of love.
God’s wile has encircled us, carried the wisdom of Christ through Constantine and crusade. She raised up leaders and saints who took the gospel to anchorages and deserts and catacombs and hush arbors. She grew her Body in out of the way places, safe from the putrid press of power.
God’s perseverance keeps calling us, out of empire, out of violence, out of riches, out of isolation. She will come again in might and glory, but by now we should know that might and glory look like a tired, pregnant girl and a mute old priest and a tiny, helpless infant.
And us: children of the Most High God, will be asked again to prepare the way, to look toward dawn, to renounce evil and choose life, to place our feet in the ways of peace. All this according to the promises She made to Hagar and Sarah and all the ancestors and *all* their descendants, forever.