Blessed Among Women

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5:2-5a

Hebrews 10:5-10

Luke 1:39-55

By Ben Wildflower

Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with thee.Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. So begins the Hail Mary, a defining prayer in the Roman Catholic tradition. When Mary travels to visit her relative, Elizabeth, she declares to Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Mary is blessed among women. What exactly does that mean? How and why is she blessed among women? She grows God incarnate within her body which is no small feat and she should be remembered and honored for that fact alone. Mary, however, is no mere passive recipient of God’s grace. She magnifies the saving works of God for all to hear and she models the faithfulness of God’s people that bears witness to God’s salvation in the world.

Mary isn’t the first person to bear the title, “Blessed among women.” In fact, she is at least the third. Continue reading

What Makes a People Great

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

James 1:17-27

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

friendship-orchard-1000x500.png

Marilynne Robinson’s essay on Moses was very helpful in writing this sermon. Check it out.

Listen to the full story of The Friendship Orchard on Circle Round.

 

What makes a nation or a people great? There are many values and priorities that we 21st century Americans hold to be “great” that are, in fact, not great, according to God’s statutes and ordinances. As evidenced by our national spending, our personal actions, and our communal laws, we as 21st century Americans believe that being strong, independent, and proud make us great yet God measures greatness quite differently.

We are slated to spend 681.1 billion dollars in military spending next year. We spend more money to ensure that we are the militarily strongest nation in the world than Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Russian, and China… combined. We are proud to spend such vast sums of money every year to remain the greatest military force in the world.

We pride ourselves on being “tough on crime” and we place little value on mercy and opportunities for rehabilitation. For 40 years, the War on Drugs has consumed countless lives and opportunities- especially among those who are most vulnerable and who are poor. The inauguration of mandatory minimums was lauded as a hopeful deterrent to drug crimes. These unfeeling sentencing practices gave judges no room for discernment or consideration into the mental health, state of vulnerability, life circumstances, or struggles with addiction, in relation to offering reasonable prison sentences and offering other rehabilitative services that might actually help break the cycle of desperation and poverty that often lead to drug use and distribution. Continue reading