Time to Dance!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Let me ask you … when was the last
time that jumped for joy? When was the last time that you were inspired to
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
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
Your cancer is in
Your child is having a
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072