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"From the Pulpit" - December 24, 2023

"From the Pulpit" - Reflections on the Weekly Texts, from Pastor Greg of Living Lord Lutheran Church, Vero Beach, FL

Luke 1:46b-55

You, Lord, have lifted up the lowly. (Lk. 1:52)

46bMy soul proclaims the greatness | of the Lord,

  47my spirit rejoices in | God my Savior,

48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your | lowly servant.

  From this day all generations will | call me blessed:

49you, the Almighty, have done great | things for me

  and holy | is your name.

50You have mercy on | those who fear you,

  from generation to | generation.

51You have shown strength | with your arm

  and scattered the proud in | their conceit,

52casting down the mighty | from their thrones

  and lifting | up the lowly.

53You have filled the hungry | with good things

  and sent the rich | away empty.

54You have come to the aid of your | servant Israel,

  to remember the prom- | ise of mercy,

55the promise made | to our forebears,

  to Abraham and his children forever. 

God Moments

     First of all, I wanted to share a God moment with you all this morning.  This is something that we need to work on as a congregation, because you all have them, all the time, and you just may not be aware of them, or think that they're any big deal.  And Heaven forbid that we share them during worship, right!?  We'll have to work on this later.

     I bet you can relate to this.  I remember when I was young, and my dad, a banker in our little community of Salisbury, MD, served on the church council of our little church.  I remember thinking that those meetings must have been secretive, in a smoke-filled room behind closed doors, with all men, making deals, fulfilling agendas of the council members, being all political and stuff, and being very secretive. Sound familiar?  Maybe you think of church council meetings like this still.  And maybe that's why to this day, you never served on a church council.

     Well I'm here to tell you, that, at least in this church - Living Lord Lutheran Church, nothing could be further from the truth.  I am so grateful for those who serve, or who have served as a member of our council over the years.  It's truly blessed work, in my opinion.  This past meeting (December), as we always do, we shared the things that are dear to us. Things that we're truly thankful for. And as we went around the room, as I listened to our folks share from their hearts what's important to them, and what they were thankful for, it brought tears to my eyes.  This group has such a heart for our LORD, and for serving, it's just amazing.  I know that opening up emotionally can be difficult, especially for men. But I'm grateful to have heard these amazing people do just that.  Putting themselves out there, risking being emotional and all.  And I have to confess, Altar Guild, we did snitch a bottle of Communion wine (or at least I did), when the Council President, Dr. Dave Wallace, wanted to make a toast to our church and the work of this council. And so we did, and it was fabulous!

     When we meet each month, we always pray for this congregation, for you, our fellow LLLC members, and for the wider world.  And we've taken turns doing devotions. As a pastor, I love to hear what each member has to say when it's their turn to lead the monthly devotions.  Beautiful prayers. Thoughtful devotions about God, and more. And so, as the year ends and a new one begins, let this be an invitation to join your church council if asked, or if you have an interest. No personal agendas.  No smoke filled back room deal making.  Only people who have a heart for service and who are willing to put it out there for the sake of the church.  Ands people who love God and their church. And to you, church council members past and present, thank you! You are truly amazing.

"Good Music Stands the Test of Time"

     I remember my dad saying that years ago when we were driving in the car, listening to "his" music at the time. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Doris Day, Tony Bennett.  He was saying this to me, as I was growing up with Chubby Checker, the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis, Motown, and more.  He'd say something like, "You know, the really good music endures the test of time." You know the music.  And while he didn't actually say it, I knew he was saying in his way, that the music I was listening to wouldn't last. That the really GREAT music, like the music of the Big Band era, the crooners of the 

40's and early '50's and before,was the music that would stand the test of time.  And I remember thinking that maybe he's right.  Maybe after a few years, these songs that I loved so much at the time wouldn't be around any more. What would I listen to?  What music would endure the test of time that I could listen to when I was an old man of 50?  (Don't I wish, now!!!)

     Well, the Psalm for Sunday morning is actually part of the Magnificat, from Luke's gospel. It's a song that Mary sings after learning from the angel that she's going to bear a child - God's son.  And her song of liberation, of justice, of hope came from the old songs in her day. The songs of Rebecca, the songs of Miriam, and others of the Hebrew bible. Songs that she had grown up learning with her girlfriends and others.  And now, some 2,000 years later, we celebrate the birth of our LORD with this song of Mary (Miriam). The Magnificat, or at least part of it.  There never was a musical score for this song.  It never appeared on any "greatest hits" list.  No Motown group or other rock band covered it. And yet it is one of, and perhaps the most enduring song of all the ages. Even more so than any Beethoven symphony, or Brahms lullaby. Or even an Elvis hit.

     It's a song coming from the heart of a young Jewish girl in her early teens, with the hope, and the anticipation, that this child she was to deliver, would bring peace to Israel. End the occupation of the Roman Empire.  Turn their world upside down, and bring justice to those who had so long been denied it.  And so my message this weekend will be about this enduring song of Miriam, and what it might mean for us today. A message of hope, of promise that the world we know today, with its violence and war, hatred and injustice, will not be the final thing. God has come among us, and we, like Mary, can sing a new song once again.

    So I hope you can join us Sunday morning, or Sunday evening at 5:30 pm for a candlelight Christmas Eve worship service. It will be a service of hope, of thanksgiving, of joy that Christ has come again, and lives with us. God, with us. And we'll sing the old, old songs of our faith. How about that!? 

In Christ, 

Pastor Greg

"Angels from the Realms of Glory"

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

"Mary Did You Know"

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