The Message, December 19, 2021: "Time to Dance!"

The Message, December 19, 2021: "Time to Dance!"

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
December 21, 2021

 

Time to Dance!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Luke 1:39-45

            Let me ask you … when was the last time that jumped for joy? When was the last time that you were inspired to dance?

            What are the things that elicit such an exuberant response?

            We have already established that I am not a dancer. Not even close. However, I will sometimes bust a move during the Children’s Message, and I did portray a dancer in a youth group skit many moons ago.

            But you do not have to be a “dancer” to dance with joy.

            Did you dance the first time that you were able to buy a brand, new car?

            Or did you dance when you were finally able to buy a house?

            Did you dance when you got engaged? Or when you got married?

            Did you dance when the Patriots won the Super Bowl? Or the Red Sox won the World Series?

            Did you dance when you received some wonderful news?
                        Your cancer is in remission!

                        Your child is having a baby!

                        You got a new job!

            I remember when Renee and I announced our engagement during worship one Sunday morning. Much to our amazement, one of the youth in the church … a boy named Brandon … jumped up and yelled out, “YES!!!” I do not know why he was so excited by the news, but I will never forget it.

            In this morning’s Gospel lesson, we hear about that beautiful moment shared between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary had just had her incredible and amazing encounter with the Angel Gabriel. She had just been told that she was favored by God. She had just been told that she would bear a child who would be the Son of the Most High, and that God would give him the throne of David. She had been told that he would reign over the house of Jacob forever!

            All of that would happen because the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the Most High would overshadow her, and therefore, her son would be holy! He will be called the Son of God!

            Holy Moly! That is fantastic, unbelievable news!!

            And then, on top of all of that, she learned that her cousin, Elizabeth, was pregnant in her advanced age because nothing is impossible for God!

            Then Mary said exactly what any astonished, overwhelmed, confused young woman would say in response, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

            There was no first century social media. Elizabeth had not announced her good news all over Facebook or Instagram. Elizabeth did not text Mary, “Guess what!! I am pregnant!!” In fact, Elizabeth remained in seclusion for the first five months of her pregnancy. Mary heard that amazing news from the angel himself.

            So, she made haste. She hurried all the way down to the Judean town where Elizabeth lived. Mary had heard the amazing news and she had amazing news of her own to share!

            The exchange between the two is captured in just a few verses, but it is so rich in meaning.

            Elizabeth was blessed by God with a pregnancy long after she had lost hope of ever having a child. Mary was carrying a child long before she had ever expected that she would.

            Both women were special.

            Elizabeth was from a priestly tribe. She was descended from Aaron. She was well-versed in the promises of the prophets. She carried a name that reminded her every day, a name that literally means “God keeps Promises.”

            She did not hear from the angel herself. Gabriel brought the news to her husband, Zechariah. He was struck mute by the angel because he questioned how this wonderful thing could be. Zechariah would be unable to speak until the child was born. A child that would be named John, which means “God is Gracious.”

            Elizabeth knew that something miraculous happened at the Temple that day. She knew that their lives had been blessed by God.

            Then Mary entered their home. We can almost imagine her bursting into the room filled with excitement for her cousin, and filled with an indescribable amazement about what was happening with her!

            What is amazing for me … and perhaps for you as well … is that we do not know anything at all about Mary. One would think that the one who would give birth to Jesus Christ would have pages and pages dedicated to telling her story in the gospels. What stories we do hear are from sources outside of scripture.

            Of course, what we do know about Mary is that she was favored by God. “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

            I do not think that I have ever been visited by an angel, and I do not recall that I have ever been greeted with those words. But Mary was. Mary was favored by God. God was with her. And we also know that she was courageous. She was strong, and she was faithful. She said, “yes. Here I am.”

            Both Mary and Elizabeth were favored by God and blessed by God. Both of their babies were miraculous. Both of them would grow up to usher in the new Kingdom of God.

            We know that if we fast-forward in time, we will hear John proclaim that One who is greater than him would come. The one who would prepare the Way of the Lord, leapt in his mother’s womb when he heard the voice of Mary. John was the first to dance in the presence of Jesus Christ.

The One who is greater was there!

            And the One who is greater is here!

            This is the beginning of the Christmas Story. And the Christmas Story is just the beginning of the rest of the story. Not just because Jesus is just a baby. Not just because we will watch him grow up and will travel with him throughout his life. The story is just beginning because the promise of God is still being fulfilled. The promise of God is birthed into being through Jesus Christ, and continues to be born by those who follow him.

            The story does not end when we take down our decorations and put our Nativity sets away. God has always taken the initiative and will continue to do so.

            God reaches out to us and through us.

            God is faithful and remembers the promises made. The covenant with God is being fulfilled.

            We are in the Presence of the Son of the Most High. We call him the Son of God.

            It is time to dance! Amen.


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