Reflection for December 20th by Peter Hanson, Lead Pastor
Nearly every day since mid-February, I have listened to a recording of Kim André Arnesen’s Magnificat. Early on, this was to help learn my part, as I was to be part of the CtK choir group singing in Carnegie Hall in April. Later, on, especially during my sabbatical, when the Covid-related shutdowns postponed the concert, I continued to listen to it more as a spiritual practice. Its Latin words were at once familiar enough to be comforting, yet foreign enough not to be a distraction to reading, writing or prayer. Paradoxically, this piece that we never got to sing in public speaks a word of hope about the future possibilities
While the text for today is not the Magnificat, but rather the Annunciation that precedes it, I tend to combine these two passages—these two events—in how I relate to this story. Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel, who announces that she will bear God’s own child. Caught off guard, she wonders how this will be; yet when the news is further unpacked, she says “yes” to this surprising blessing. And later, as she visits her relative, Elizabeth, she sings of a magnificent God who overturns the status quo, who upends our expectations, who lifts up the lowly. That such a disruptive thing could be so soothing, so calming to us these days is nothing less than an Advent miracle.
A prayer: God of surprises, God of blessing, God of promise: you come to us and call us to bear your word to the world. Help us to respond to you, so that our very lives my sing “Here am I, a servant of my God; let it be with me according to your word!” Amen.