In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God's name. God's mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation. God has shown strength with God's arm; God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. God has helped God's servant Israel, in remembrance of God's mercy, according to the promise God made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her [Elizabeth]about three months and then returned to her home.
Mary, a young girl engaged to be married, finds out through a divine encounter, or message, or intervention, that she is going to have a baby. She will be the God-bearer. She will have her life turned upside down, her plans, whatever they had been before this encounter, were drastically changed- it would be harder- there would be difficulties she could not have imagined- no doubt fear consumed her-
The angel continues: "Your old cousin Elizabeth is also going to have a baby- nothing is impossible with God." I suspect there was a long pause between those words of the angel and Mary's response. Like any of us who receive news that will interrupt the rest of our lives, she needed time to process. "What, when, how, why me? Why not me?" eventually, she lifts her head, sets her jaw resolutely, and speaks- Well then, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Mary's a rock star!
But brave as she is, she knows she will need support. If she is to be the carrier of the divine message, the Word, bringer of the good news of salvation, liberation, and love, she will need to learn how to carry this message with confidence, passion, and joy. Because as much as she can tell people what's going on, words often remain unconvincing without that surety, the passion, that affirmation and witness that comes from deep inside. So she goes to see her elderly cousin Elizabeth.
Once she sees Elizabeth, shriveled with age, yet plump with promise, she remembers the angel's words- nothing is impossible with God. And when the old woman feels her baby leap with joy in the inward parts of her being, Elizabeth is so moved she stands up herself and declares all that God is doing in their lives- "Blessed are you among women"- she sings, "and blessed is the fruit of your womb, blessed am I, blessed are we, Blessed is the Lord! Blessed, blessed! " And the Spirit of her song surrounds Mary, and envelops her, and fills her with confirmation, and affirmation, and holy Godly joy- she is the host of the Holy Spirit of God- a carrier of the divine world changing message that will shine light into the dark places, and bring salvation to the lost... and the joy of this truth fills her to overflowing, and she bursts into song... "My soul magnifies the Lord, God has done great things, God has changed my life, God has done impossible things, God is coming! God is here! God IS!"
We've spent a year in our backyard, learning that God is. God is in me, in you, in us, has planted seeds of hope and songs of praise in each of us. Each of us, God bearers, bringers of the divine word, carriers of the holy spirit of God, each of us holds a message of truth that the world needs to hear. And we've shared our joy with each other, been affirmed by the Elizabeths among us, yes, yes, we are blessed... God is!
But Mary... if you look to the right, the backyard fence just swung open... it's time to learn to sing our song out in the neighborhood. How can we sing with confidence, with passion, with joy, to those who have not heard our song before?
It occurred to me earlier this week that what we could really use is a voice lesson. Many of the same techniques used in helping a vocalist to optimize their gifts are totally applicable to us sharing our song. So I've asked Howard to help us define and then illustrate some of the things that might help us learn to sing our message with clarity, and with joy.
1. Vocal Health- Taking care of our bodies- In spiritual terms, this means recognizing we are all valuable creations of God- and caring for our selves accordingly- it's also the acceptance that we are loved by God, just as we are- no matter what.
Breath- (Howard explain breathing) then- spiritually- breath and spirit are ways of the spirit-each breath in we actually say the name of God-our bodies continually communicate with God- we also are intentional about communicating with God/prayer- God gives us our song, affirms our song, and continues to build on our song- if we listen.
Alignment-(Howard alignment) Spiritually: setting ourselves- posture of confidence- Even though we may be timid, to think Are we afraid of sharing the message- that will surely affect our sound and our song- balance, shoulders don’t move- recognizing where the sound/song/breath comes from- realizing God prepares us and equips us and indeed will put the words in our mouths.
Finding your Tone- everyone’s tone is unique- no imitation necessary- find your range-chest/head-weak spots/vulnerable spots- feels like a pothole when the voice cracks… passing the head to the chest- spot that needs strengthening- taught on vowels- 2 vowels heal the voice- the e vowel- and the ooo vowel creates a narrow stream of of tone- like a hose, when you narrow it, the water gets directed better- more focused tone…tentative- mus be trust between the teacher- vulnerable to do it a new way but this is the healing process. Daily practice- cant pinpoint a day when it happens, but a looking back evaluates wow!
Music Theory- continuing study- daily practice improvement- maturity- focus- priority- your charchter changes. Your real voice might not be what you think it is.
Staying motivated & Engaged- community/encouragement/choir- sharing your song in a multitude of ways- love music is love in search of a word.