December 3: The World Is About to Turn


Advent Devotion: The World Is About to Turn

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Luke 1:46b-55

Towards the end of the first act of the musical Hamilton, the cast sings the refrain:

   The world turned upside down,
   The world turned upside down,
   The world turned upside down...

It is a revolutionary moment.  The song tells of the Battle of Yorktown, and in that moment, the characters on stage are overthrowing colonial power.

And, beyond the words and the plot, embodied on the stage, there is more.  Hamilton is a hip-hop telling of the founding story of this nation. Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda has peopled the stage—Hamilton, Washington, Burr, the Schuyler sisters—with actors who are African-American, and Latinx, and of Caribbean descent.  From the opening moment of the play, building to this refrain, the cast has been singing themselves into the narrative—as voices long silenced tell the founding story, and as dominant and dominating voices recede into the wings.  It is a liberation moment.  The cast could just as well sing, “the world turned rightside up.”

Mary sings a song like this in Luke 1. Mary—a young Palestinian-Jewish woman living in a colonized nation under Roman imperial rule—has learned that she is pregnant with liberating promise. Her cousin Elizabeth has just named her Blessed. Embedded in a world layered with patriarchy, and with empire, and with all manner of power-over, Mary rises up and boldly sings this:

   What God is doing in the world... God is doing in me. 
   My soul – my whole being – magnifies God.
   Look, God is lifting up the humble. 
   Look, God is bringing down the powerful. 
   Look, God is sending the rich away empty.  
   Look, God is filling the hungry with good things.  
   Look.  Here.  
   My life... my life... embodies God’s liberating work in the world.

Mary sings herself into the narrative.  Mary announces and embodies God’s liberating hope. Mary sings, as one Advent hymn tells it:  “The world is about to turn.”

This year, this embodied yearning is our theme for the SFTS daily Advent devotions: “The World Is About to Turn.” Mary sings of a longing for the world to be set right -- for the humble to be lifted up, for the hungry to be filled with good things, for the world to experience God's mercy.  In this Advent season of yearning and hope, we invite you to join in that song, and to ask – with each Scripture and with each writer:

  • Where am I experiencing this longing for the world to be set right? In my own life? In our world? In the vital issues of our day?
  • Where do I see the world about to turn?
  • Where am I willing to embody this refrain:

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
   Let the fires of your justice burn.
   Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
   and the world is about to turn

From the hymn, The Canticle of the Turning, text by Rory Cooney

Rev. Scott Clark
SFTS Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life