United Church of Christ

Living Psalm 145 and Luke 1 - Advent 3

Living Psalms Book
Psalms in the form of words and art, reborn in the specific contexts of our world, privileging the voices of historically marginalized communities and those acting in solidarity with them.

Living Psalm 146: 5-10 and Luke 1: 46b- 55 –
Third week in Advent
A Dialogue with Scripture -- Elizabeth and Mary
Two women, one older and one younger, both pregnant, sit together. The older one is six months further along in her pregnancy. They are the biblical cousins, Elizabeth and Mary.

E: Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,

M: (Interrupting) And Leah and Rachel and .... Hagar for that matter.

E: Mary, hush, I am praying the words from the psalms for this day.

M: Then make the psalms your own, Cousin Elizabeth.
It is for us, for our praying, that the psalms are given.
The psalms are living. They are not so much sung by us, as they sing us.

E: (sighing, but giving in) Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob --
not to speak of Leah, Rachel, Hagar, Rahab,
Bathsheba, Ruth, cranky old Elijah, 
Amos with sycamore sap under his nails, 
Samson hiding his male pattern baldness, and fearless Jael --
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them ...
How’s that?

M: Much better, Ellie, but sing it -- like this:
‘My soul magnifies God, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on a servant’s lowliness.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

E: But, Mary, that is really all about your own situation,
this amazing, holy, almost-death-penalty pregnancy. 
It is completely different from anyone else’s experience --
how is that going to touch other lives?

M: What do you mean? Look at the miracle in your middle, old lady.
God’s done some pretty great things for you!

E: Who are you calling “old,” girl? 
I’ve got the legs to chase this wild belly-bouncer of mine
all the way to the Jordan River and back.

M:But you see -- everybody is carrying a holy birth,
not just the two of us, frozen in time. I’ll prove it.
Keep going with your psalm ...

E: Our hope is in God, who made heaven and earth, 
the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

M: Yes! Yes! God’s mercy is for those who fear God ... 
well, and love God, too ...
from generation to generation.
God has shown strength of arm;
scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
bringing down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifting up the lowly.

E: Hear mine!!!!
God sets the prisoners free;
opens the eyes of the blind.

M: God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
I guess it is not actually for everyone, Ellie.

E: It is for those who have-not, who have waited
while others grabbed but did not give.
Hear the psalm ... God lifts up those bowed down;
loves the righteous.
watches over the strangers,
upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked is brought to ruin.

M: God has helped servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful,
according to the promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever!

E: Wait just a minute!!!
You can’t call me out on ‘Jacob,’
then say the blessing only comes through ‘Abraham.’

The psalms are for the living.

As for help coming to the people of Israel --
God’s mercy is wider than ... (pointing to her pregnancy)
wider than any one people.

M: How shall I say it?

E: Magnify it, girl!
Magnify it, if you want to be the best Mama
for your little boy.

M: (taking a deep breath)
God has helped Israel and Rome,
Syria and Brazil, Hong Kong and New Zealand,
the United States and the Ukraine,
Haiti, Norway and South Sudan --
remembering how
to make people merciful,
according to the promise made our ancestors,
to Abraham, Hagar and Sarah, 
Martin and Dag, Maya and Mother Teresa,
and now to their descendants
Malala and Jahkil Jackson,
Greta Thunberg and Grace Callwood.
How’s that?

E: That’s how it grows ... which is what you are doing.

M: You’re almost finished ... growing.

E: Finished? Not really.
Do you have a clue what a toddler is like? They eat bugs!
Who knows what kind of trouble
your child will get into!
We will need my psalms and your songs.

Here is the psalm as it draws to its pause.
God reigns forever, our God,
for all generations! Praise to God!

M: And holy is God’s name. Amen.

Living Psalm 146: 5-10 and Luke 1: 46b-55 for Advent 3 was written by the Rev. Maren Tirabassi.

Living Psalms Book is created by UCC Witness & Worship Artists’ Group, a Network of UCC connected artists, activists and ministers bridging the worship and liturgy of the local church with witness and action in the community.  Maren Tirabassi, editor.

Logo is detail from Living Psalm 80 by Sophia Beardemphl, Redwoods, CA. Recovering from significant bullying, Sophia, age nine, read Psalm 80 and thought of brokenness that needs mending. She drew this broken and mended bowl.

© Copyright 2019 Faith INFO Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.  

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