Luke 1:46b-55 CEB
Here we are at the third week in Advent. Advent is part of the Christian Calendar. It is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and each week symbolizes a different theme to draw us closer to the birth of Jesus. The themes are hope, peace, joy, and love. This week, it is all about joy. What better Christmas movie to help us understand joy than Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
There is a reason hope comes first in Advent. When the world is at it's darkest hope is the light that shines to begin highlighting peace, joy and love. Hope will always comes first.There is also a reason why joy is introduced the week before we learn about love. One might think that love takes root and joy erupts from it, but both Rudolph and Mary teach us otherwise.
In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, we learn Rudolph's nose glows because he is joyful and his joy cannot be contained. From the moment he was born his nose would glow. In Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer what we see is the absence of love, trying to cover over joy. First, there is Donner, the bad parent. He is more concerned with social edict than protecting and standing up for his son. Second, there is Santa, the poor symbol of the Christmas spirit. He can't say thank you to elves, who have prepared a musical number just for him. He can't even consider a reindeer who looks a little different, even though he is an excellent flyer. Really, the female characters quietly redeem this movie from being terrible. That's another meditation for another time.
Mary was ostracized too. I have read and heard many a sermon focused on the dangers Mary would face as an unmarried woman. Her future husband could have her stoned. If he chose to divorce her quietly, which he planned to do, she would be shunned by her family and forced to glean fields for leftovers. She had no skillset. There was no job she would be able to do for money. From all appearances she would be living out the remainder of her life, alone, attempting to raise and feed a child.
What is talked about a whole lot less is the mythology that surrounded women and angels during the time of Mary. Angels were bad omens when they came to females. There were local legends of angels who came and brought bad tidings of great torment. This, along with the previous point, would have been forefront in Mary's mind as the angel talked to her.
Yet, what does she do? The scripture above is called the Magnificat, or Mary's song! Joy bursts out. She cannot contain it.
The point is, with both this week's Christmas movie, and Mary, there is always something to be depressed about. At the same time, there is always something to sing for joy! If you plant hope, and prepare it with peace. If you shine joy upon it, Love will come.
This is part of an Advent movie series:
Advent Goes to the Movies
Christmas Hope: It's A Wonderful Life
Christmas Peace: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation