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Launch of the ACT Alliance

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit held the sermon at the prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.

24 March 2010

We can magnify.

We can magnify God through our worship.
We can magnify God through our acts.
We can magnify God by worshiping and acting together.

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. For the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

The Magnificat has a strong message to us: In the lowest we find the highest. In the smallest we find the greatest. In the most vulnerable we find the power of God. We are called to magnify, for the benefit of those who need it, for the glory of God.

Some of us have had the experience and some of us can experience the great miracle of magnifying the Creator by carrying the life of another person into life. In these days, nine months before the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we sing the words of Mary with joy and with trembling awe. The vulnerability of life comes so close to us. This was also the reality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this vulnerability is the power of life. Here is God the Creator, here is the promise for the future, inside the body of a woman.

For Mary it is the promise of a Savior. She is carrying the one who shall “scatter the proud”, “bring down the powerful from their thrones”, “lift up the lowly”, and “fill the hungry with good things”. Nothing less.

The true worship of God is coming from Mary, the young woman. Quite often the truth of the word of God is clearer, stronger and sharper in the mouth of those who are experiencing the burdens of this life more than others. This is the mystery of the incarnation, God becoming flesh and blood. This is how God reveals the truth and the greatness of love, through what is small and weak, sometimes even through suffering and death. This is the mystery of the cross.

When we magnify God we are bringing power to what God is doing in this world. We are not here to magnify ourselves, our organizations or our churches. We are called to magnify God, the Creator of all human beings and the whole of creation. We are here to magnify the justice of God, the peace of God, the love of God, the gifts of God. We are here to magnify those who might see themselves as small or those who are made small by the powerful in this world.

When we are here to celebrate the launch of the ACT Alliance, we can see what we do today in the light of the Magnificat. The Church has magnified God by reading and singing Mary’s words, the Magnificat, in the daily prayers. These wonderful and powerful words magnify God, the savior of those who need salvation, the Lord of those who need the rule of justice and peace, the Creator of those who are hungry.

Therefore, the work for another and better world is an intrinsic part of the worship of the Church to God. When we are doing the acts of justice, the acts of peace, and the acts of feeding the hungry we are doing the acts that magnify God, because these acts magnify the dignity of each human being.

When you are coordinating, planning, evaluating, improving, financing, and doing the acts for a better world, for the care of creation, you do what every human being can do and should do. We are not exclusive in doing this, fortunately. What we do can be seen as proper human solidarity and responsible behavior. And let everyone who wants that to happen, support and join hands with us.

However, as churches we are called to do this as a service to worship God, a liturgy after the liturgy. This is not a matter of having a second agenda or a hidden agenda. This is about doing what is right for the benefit of God’s creation. And when we do that, and when others do that, we are praising the God of love and justice.

Today we celebrate that we will and can do more of this together – more coordinated, more effectively. The ACT Alliance is the acts of the churches. Together. Therefore, the ACT Alliance is a genuine expression of the ecumenical movement, the call to be one so that the world can believe that God is a loving and caring God for all humankind. Therefore, we must also be inclusive in our work and our intentions, including all human beings in those who benefit from our service and acts, whatever culture, belief or color they might have. And therefore, we are aiming at being inclusive in bringing churches from the whole world into this fellowship of service. By working together we are magnifying the gifts given to be shared.

May those who need us, be magnified and empowered by our acts together.

May God be magnified by our acts and our worship.

May God bless us all to be faithful servants.

Amen

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches