For me, Advent and Christmas are times of abundant music! The music – even through the notes themselves – is rich with messages of hope, expectation, challenge and promise; it gathers my memories and invites me to make new ones!
This year during our recent first snow I was able to get into an old, usually broken IPOD that is full of things I haven’t heard in a while, including a folder entitled “Christmas.” Once I got it working (a good bang on the floor!), I sat back and began to listen…
I’d forgotten the Iona CD, Innkeepers and Light Sleepers, that I’d added to the Christmas folder. It is a unique collection of Advent and Christmas songs from that island community of faith. The music is simple, with words about the birth of Jesus that pierce right to the heart! I was caught by a song I’d always loved: Justice in the Womb.
The song is about Mary and her journey, and the words of the chorus made me pause:
Though for her no rights or room,
There is promise in the womb
And there is justice in the womb.
Maybe it was the day.
Maybe it was the morning news I’d watched.
Maybe it is the way I have experienced the last couple of years,
but I couldn’t get away from those lyrics!
True enough: no rights, no room for Mary. She, the unwed mother, was all but powerless, and giving birth in a strange town. Any rights she might have would come through Joseph. Yet despite her position – or lack of one – the child Mary carried in her womb was the hope of the world! What promise – he was like all infants, but so much more! He would be the one to live out God’s justice, yet there he was, growing, getting ready to be born from the womb of one who had no standing and few resources.
Enough? No. Those words just wouldn’t let me go.
Justice in the womb. Justice getting ready to be born. Justice becoming complete so that the world might know it and live it. Justice coming from unexpected places and pushing us beyond the broken justice we live now! Surely it is true that the world itself stands waiting for, and in great need of, the justice born of God-with-us?
And we who have become God-bearers with Mary are the ones to give voice and action and life to that gift. There IS promise in the womb – and it is not just about a room with the animals many years ago. It is about now, and who we are, and who we become as the birth pangs grow stronger. It is about how we go, what we say, and with whom we live.
It is about Jesus, born of Mary – Emmanuel. Let justice roll down…
Susan Faye Wonderland
Synod of the Trinity