Love first, not panic. In a world, where confusion and violence seems to reign supreme, we all need to truly hear this message in our hearts: love first, place panic on the back burner. About a week ago, I read a story from the New York Post of true love and kindness for a stranger. Matthew Jackson in San Diego California saw a woman struggling to pay for a cart full of groceries and some fussy children. A line was piling up behind her and people were getting impatient. Jackson stepped up and covered her grocery bill telling her that he wanted no thanks just that she do the same someone else in the future. Later that day he passed away in a car accident. This man showed love and care to a complete stranger. He showed compassion in a world that is reeling from a world struggling. We see this in the violence we’ve experienced in our cities, to countries torn apart by war and terrorism. But instead of being fearful and just trying to keep to himself, Jackson allowed for his love of others to shine through.
This man allowed for his compassion to take the lead in a world where more and more people are in need of help and care. This morning we heard the song of a young mother to her miracle baby: Jesus. And he was just that, a miracle being born of a virgin. She did not panic though she had been sent away by her family to have the child. She did not panic though she risked being ostracized by her whole community and synagogue for being an unwed mother. She risked losing her betrothal to Joseph. Because she was pregnant out of wedlock, Joseph no longer had to honor his agreement with her family to marry her. She faced all of this risk as a young teenager. And yet she faced it with innocence, with hope, with trust and with love.
Our scriptures do not show Mary panicking. They do show her family panicking by sending her to another village to stay with family. They do show Joseph panicking in the preceding chapter as the angel came to reassure him of God’s hand in this fearful and confusing situation. Now we do not regularly get visited by the angel Gabriel in the 21st century. But there are angels in our world who remind us of God’s love and care even in those times when our worlds are filled with grief and confusion, stress and nervousness.
We are called to live a life of love. We are called to love first. We are called to be those angels, beacons of hope to one another throughout the year. Mary sings a song of praise, a song of love for the promise she carried with her. She loved that life inside of her instead of feeling resentful or scared. She approach a difficult life event with care and love. Perhaps, we too can learn from Mary’s song, Mary’s lullaby.
Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, with these words upon her lips, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant”. Can you imagine if we could face our life struggles, our worries, our anxieties with rejoicing over our blessings? Can you imagine if we faced some of the darkness of life with joy instead of the sickening feeling of anxiety in pit of our stomachs? What might our world look like then; what might our lives look like?
This week we hear about love. But this is not an easy love. It isn’t the same as loving a soft little kitten or puppy, or a perfect little grandbaby or child. This is not the same type of love or unabridged joy. This type of love we are called to is the love that comes from knowing that God is intricately intertwined in our live, in all of our experiences blessing us even amidst sorrow. The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote, “And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus the Christ once and for all”. Mary knew this before Jesus was even born. And Paul reminds us that we have been sanctified, we have been blessed.
So as we prepare to go forth into the hussle and bussel of our lives, we should not forget to take some time perhaps when we are the most frustrated, the most fed up to show our love for God. We all need to be reminded to do something that reminds us that we are blessed, we are sanctified. God is with us loving and caring for us. And he calls us to do just one thing this week to live that love. Whether we reach out to a stranger in need as Matthew Jackson in San Diego California did, or whether we live that love in some other way doesn’t matter as long as we do it. We are called to place aside our struggles to see the love of Christ in our hearts and in this world for just a few moments. So do something to sing your song of love this day. It might just be the holiday cheer we need to remind us of God’s love in life. We are called to sing our song of love each and every day so loudly that panic and fear no longer are given power in life.
 Luke 1: 46-48, NRSV.
 Hebrews 10: 10, NRSV.