2022 12 11: Advent Joy
Sunday Sermon: Alan Storey
Prayer for Peace, Hope and Justice by Ian Proudfoot.
Every year on the third week of Advent we are invited to sing Mary’s liberation song with her. Few words have ever been spoken that are more radical. Few words have ever been spoken that are a greater threat to the status quo of Empire. Say them aloud if you dare…
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him from
generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has
scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our
ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants
for ever.’ (Luke 1:46-55)
Proof of the power of these words is how the powers of Empire responded to them. Empire’s Herod fearfully and lovelessly responded with the systematic state sponsored murder of the innocents. Unjust and oppressive regimes rule by fear and therefore the one thing they fear more than anything else is that people will no longer fear them. Brutal clamp downs of uprisings are clear proof of this fear. We see this in Iran at the moment. Brave and courageous Mary-like-women no longer afraid to reveal their faces and sing of their freedom while the spirit/wind blows through their hair. This terrifies regimes of terror. This freedom campaign against #ForcedHijab in particular and oppression of women in general will be overcome one day.
Five years ago on 17 October Yasaman Aryani, dared to take off her hijab and practice her civil disobedience as part of #WhiteWednesdays campaign. She is paying a heavy price in prison. Even from jail she issued a statement to support Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who on 16 September 2022, died in a hospital in Tehran, Iran, under suspicious circumstances. The Guidance Patrol, the religious morality police of Iran’s government, arrested Amini for not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards.
One exiled journalist and activist from Iran, Masih Alinejad says: “The truth is I am not the one they are scared of. They‘re scared of us drops becoming a river … You’re scared that people are no longer scared of you and they can rise up. Whichever woman hears me she sees that our voice is heard worldwide. She feels powerful because she can become a state in her own right. Because Islamic Republic isn’t the real choice of Iranians. Because our elections are a sham.”
Long live the liberating spirit of Mary – long live.
The service today is being recorded by the SABC in order to be broadcast throughout
SA on Christmas Day. So in other words we get to celebrate Christmas early. Happy Christmas today!! At first I thought that this is a little odd, but then I realised that the followers of Jesus are to live life in the constant celebration of his birth among us.
“Joy to the world – the Lord is come…” should be on our lips everyday! Everyday
we should be on the look-out for the Divine among us.
If Jesus is consistent (which he certainly is) his presence among us will be undercover, just as his first coming among us. I mean what could be more “undercover” than a baby
of an unmarried peasant girl cradled in the feed trough of a cattle shed? Even the wisest
of sages went to the wrong address to look for him. We are always told to “follow the money!!!” Well that is exactly what the so-called wise men did and all they found was an ignorant and paranoid head of state. Following the money doesn’t lead to Jesus … it leads to the powers of death.
Many of the homeless people of our city have similar stories to tell. Very often treated like trash. Sometimes they are mistreated by security guards … who themselves are not treated much better. Homeless people are told to “move on” all the time – convincing them that they do not belong.
Thank you to everyone who each Sunday provide lunch for around 300 people at the Service Dining Rooms. Today we all get to join in this act of service as we occupy Church Street to host a Christmas Banquet for the people who are marginalised within this city. There will be over 500 people for the seated meal and around 200 takeaways – so please we need all the help we can get.
Be on the lookout for Jesus – for the Divine is come to be our guest today.