And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And 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 mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
My brother-in-Christ Jeff can’t contain his enthusiasm. Whenever something wonderful or awesome happens to him or someone he loves, he tells people about it.
When his daughters graduated high school, we all heard about it.
When his daughters got married, we all heard about it.
When his grandchildren were born, we all heard about it.
Jeff also serves as a pastor in Wisconsin. When his congregation decided to venture into a new and exciting mission stance, we all heard about it.
When this venture led him to help other congregations find their unique way of telling God’s Story of salvation, we all heard about it.
Jeff is not the only person who, in his excitement, tells other people what he’s discovered, what has happened to his family, or what God is doing in and through him. But Jeff has taught me so much about the incredible blessing of telling other people what God is up to in his life.
Mary is a similar type of person.
The angel Gabriel has come to her to tell her what God will be doing in her life. Gabriel’s news to her is concluded with the announcement of her relative Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
After Elizabeth’s greeting to her, Mary cannot contain her enthusiasm and joy. Her mode of announcing her joy is a poem or song.
We know it today as the Magnificat – which is the Latin for the word “magnifies.”
This song of Mary is not prophecy. It isn’t something she had heard and memorized from the Old Testament – although it does use similar words as Hannah’s Song from 1 Samuel 2:1-10. It is a song of praise to what God has done and continues to do in her life and the life of the world.
Nor is Mary telling us that the world will consider her to be someone majestic or some kind of royalty. She continues to confess that she is really a “nobody” yet God chose her out of his love for her and for the world.
Mary confesses that there is nothing in her that made God choose her to be the mother of Jesus, but that God chose her out of his mercy.
I don’t completely understand that but I am thankful for God’s mercy and love.
I’m thankful that God’s love is not a “zero sum” type of thing. By that I mean that I’m thankful that while God loves me, it doesn’t mean he has to hate someone else to keep things in balance.
This song of Mary appears to say that. But instead of balance, it is “leveling.”
The proud are scattered, the mighty are brought low, the rich are sent away hungry.
But those who are scattered are brought back to himself. Those who are humble are exalted and the poor are filled with good food.
This is not balance, this is the great leveling – that God brings all people to the level place where his love and mercy are endowed.
I admit, this is a hard concept to understand.
Which is why I think we are encouraged to have faith as a child – to believe things even if we don’t fully understand. Or even understand at all.
Mary didn’t seem to understand. She just responded to God’s love and mercy with enthusiasm and sang her praise to God and confessed herself to be God’s servant.
And that is what this season is all about. Looking forward to God doing something amazing and then, with great enthusiasm, telling others all about it!
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