Spiritual Connections – God’s Mercy and Love is for Everyone (Dec 2021)

Dec 10, 2021

This month’s Spiritual Connections is from our General Presbyter, the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo:
As we prepare for the last Sunday in Advent we hear the familiar words of the Magnificat of Mary from Luke’s Gospel:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And as I look out on our world this week, especially after this past week, I am reminded that this Mary, this God incarnate, that comes to us in the Christ Child, is so much in need in so many spaces around us….

I am thinking about the Amazon fulfillment warehouse and facility, where at least six workers who make minimum wage and struggle in work environments that have been described as abusive and oppressive died in last weekend’s tornadoes as a roof collapsed. Most did not have their cell phones with them to call 911 as Amazon prohibits that on the factory floor and provides little emergency training. All while the founder of Amazon was in the southwest desert, launching space tourists into orbit, who has sold at least 100 million dollars in ticket profits so far.

I am thinking about the candle factory in Kentucky, where workers were also making minimum wage, about $8/hour, some even less, as they were imported daily from the local jail to work, with part of their “pay” going to the jail. 10-hour shifts, with mandatory overtime, and under Kentucky law, if you refuse to work mandatory overtime, you can be legally fired. The workers were working beyond their ten-hour shifts in that mandatory overtime with the tornado hit on Friday/Saturday night. There are still over 40 people unaccounted for there.

Mary says: He has brought the powerful down from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. God knows you, and knows your suffering. God is with you, you are the most important ones to God in this time.

I am thinking about the article I read last week in the New York Times that reminds us that nearly 200K children in the United States alone (and that number is only going up) have been orphaned because of Covid-19. Their trauma, their pain, their loss, is nearly silent. Schools, mental health care agencies are struggling to keep up with their needs, for many of these children, there are no services available to handle the losses they are experiencing.

Mary says: God’s mercy and love is for everyone. You will somehow in all of this be blessed. You are God’s preferred, the most beloved.

It is a struggle, on this fourth Sunday in Advent, when we know so much joy has been snuffed out of the world.

And yet Mary, the Magnificat, reminds us that God takes sides, God is interested in unseating the so-called powerful from their misbegotten thrones, God is preferentially with the poor, and God is interested in a redemption and resurrection that right-sizes the world for people, communities and the earth itself. The joy of this season is that God is interested in revolution, God is talking to us through the Jesus who flipped the tables of the moneychangers who defiled the Temple, God is saving us through the Jesus who defied the Roman Empire and self-aggrandizing religious “leaders” of his day. God is incarnate. Flesh and blood. Creator and of Creation.

Mary reminds us of these things every time she sings her song….

May this last week of Advent and the turning into the Christmastide season bring you all that you need in this time. I am grateful for you. I am honored to walk alongside you in your ministry.

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