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Sermon of the week: Experiencing joy
by FR. CLAYTON ELDER, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
Dec 23, 2012 | 895 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Based upon the Gospel Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent: Luke 1:39-55

What would make you celebrate wildly? And I don’t mean “partying like it’s 1999,” or in our case, like it’s end of the Mayan calendar! I mean that seeming explosion of joy that comes from the depths of who you are, encompasses every fiber of your being, and has no choice but to burst out of you in song, dance and shouts of joy.

Maybe it’s the final point scored in the big game, and you, or your favorite team, accomplished the fairytale ending of a Cinderella story season. (Oh, how many times this was played out in my driveway and back yard when I was a kid!)

Maybe it’s the job offer you’ve been waiting for that, after a long spell of suffering, will put food on the table, a roof over your head, and restore safety and security to your family.

Maybe it’s when she/he says “Yes!” and the all the breadth and depth of the love that you have for that special someone is returned, reflected and made whole.

Or maybe it’s when you receive the results from your latest tests, and after a long journey of treatments/surgeries that have beaten and broken your mind, body and spirit, you are freed from that which threatened your life and livelihood, and given a new a chance at life.

You see, for whatever it is, whatever the occasion that would make your heart sing and spirit rejoice, this is merely the starting point of Mary’s joy of bearing the Savior of the Word.

“My heart declares that the Lord is great,” Mary sings, “and My spirit exults in my savior, my God.”

You see, the depth and breadth of Mary’s joy encompasses all of creation. Her heart, that which represents not only her truest nature and harbor of love, but also the very physical mechanism that gives her life, is a symbol, means and way to connect her, just as she was formed out of the earth, to all of creation. Therefore, her “heart” is joined with all of creation in declaring that “the Lord is great!”

Further, while the depth of her joy reaches the to the very core of the earth and humanity, so to the breadth of her joy reaches as tall and wide as the heavens themselves. For you see, Mary’s “spirit,” that life giving “breath” of God, that lifeline that goes beyond Abraham and the garden, connects her directly to the heavens, to the spiritual places, spaces and beings, and to the very nature of God. Therefore, her “spirit” is joined with all of the angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven in exulting “in my savior, my God.”

So, what does this mean for us?

It means that when we truly experience joy, when it seems that it reaches far deeper than we can understand and wants to reach out father than we can reach…that joy is of God… and it is your heart and spirit’s way of reaching out and uniting with all of creation, heaven and earth, to reflect and return it to God.

More importantly, it means that we, children of God, formed of the earth, and given the breath of God, have, with Mary, the unique gift and opportunity this Christmas morning, to open the whole of who we are, heart and spirit, be united with all of creation, heaven and earth, and welcome and rejoice in the gift of God’s grace, mercy and salvation in Jesus, the Christ!

And if you thinks that’s big … just wait … it’s merely the starting point for the Kingdom of God!
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