Hannah prayed: I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation. Nothing and no one is holy like God,
no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
while the mother of many is bereft.
God brings death and God brings life,
brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth;
he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
The song above might seem vaguely familiar to recent blogs. You may even be thinking about Mary’s song right now. But there is a reason that we think of Mary when we read this song. This is actually Hannah’s song. Hannah offers her child for the good of Israel. She had promised her baby to God if she were to become pregnant. At this point, she has had her baby and is singing of the greatness of God. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Hannah thinks of herself as favored and then the angel Gabriel tells Mary she is favored. And I don’t think it is a coincidence that Hannah sings of God lifting up the lowly and poor and later Mary will sing of the same God.
We have ties to our past much like Mary is intricately connected to Hannah. We, as Christians, have ties to our Jewish brothers and sisters as well.
Tonight will mark the first evening of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a remembrance of the past and a connection to the ties of the past. Hanukkah is a celebration of light as well. We should hear some connections to this. It is no coincidence that Hanukkah and Christmas are both celebrated in the middle of winter. While Hanukkah dates change it still takes place during the darkest time of the year and centers on candlelight. When there was not enough, light seemed to keep going. Christmas focuses on a new light that enters the world in the middle of the darkest season about the same time that people all over the world celebrate and honor the winter Solstice. After tomorrow the light slowly begins to return…and we are connected by that moment.
All of this to say that perhaps today we should think about a couple of things. First of all, where is light returning in your world? Are there glimpses of light in dark places that you can see? Can you be that light at times? For me, yesterday there were moments of light in conversations, caroling with kids, and even a friend who walked through the building with lights all over his backpack. Those are moments of light.
Secondly, how are you connected to the past? Those who have gone before you singing similar songs? Often this time of year brings up our past connections. I tend to watch the movies I have always watched and remember things of Christmases past. There is nostalgia but we just can’t help during the season. How are we connected?
Prayer: God, we sing of you lifting up the lowly. Lift us up to be light in the dark places. Allow us to sing out praise to you as we remember our past. Keep in mind those beginning the Hanukkah journey this night as we are all connected by light. Amen.