What have the Romans done for us?

Advent 4c – Sunday 23rd December 2012
Luke 1: 39-56

Life of Brian The People's Front of JudeaAs Reg said to the meeting of the People’s Front of Judea:
“All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?”

When I hear or read the words of The Magnificat my breath is well and truly taken from me. I wish I could think of something as beautiful. I wish I could phrase such words of praise for all that God has done for me. Mary’s emotions are laid bare as these words are uttered. The joy, the peace, the love lifts straight off the page and into my heart. Amazing.

As I write these words the names of the victims of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut have just been posted on the internet. Twenty six names of ordinary people who made such an extraordinary difference to the lives of their loved ones. Little tributes alongside the names give insights into the lives they led and are touching beyond words. In fact, just as The Magnificat is so wonderfully easy to read, these tributes are so powerfully painful and hard to read. Just to see the list of their names is overwhelming:

Sandy Hook Elementary SchoolCharlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel DaVino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Russeau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt.

Ask some people what God has ever done for them and they will answer bitterly … nothing. And yet some of the families who lost loved ones at Newtown are speaking openly of how their lives have been richly blessed. Amazing. Despite the loss, despite the grief, despite the hurt … they can still see the loving hand of God at work in their lives. That is the raw emotion that Mary gives off in the words of The Magnificat. It is the raw emotion being displayed by the dignity and courage of these amazing people in Newtown.

This Christmas time we need to give thanks to God for all that he has done for us. Because sometimes our selfishness, our pre-occupation with meaningless tasks, our bitterness, our busyness, our ignorance all blind us to what God truly has done for us. He has sent his Son to be our Saviour. Our hearts need to sing for joy. And we need to redouble our efforts to pray for peace, to pray for those who hurt, to pray for God’s salvation for all his people.

“My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Saviour, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!”

Can I get an AMEN?

Happy days

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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