LUKE 1:46-55 (NIV)
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Advent is a season of descent toward the humble stable, where a new family is born at the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—pointing to our larger family that transcends time and space as the People of the Covenant-Keeping God, the Lord who keeps his promises “to a thousand generations” (Ps. 105:8).
Before the moment of Jesus’ birth, after Mary receives word from the angel that she is with child by the Holy Spirit, and after seeing her cousin Elizabeth, she is filled with a song of vibrant worship. We call that song, “The Magnificat” (Latin for “my soul magnifies”). Advent is a time for worship—worship that is wild with praise, rich with memory, and packed with joy. This Advent season of descent, as the Lord of Hosts manifests his love on earth in the person of Jesus, we would do well to recount some of the lyrics of Mary’s powerful song of worship.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary is informing her spirit, her mind, and anyone who will listen, what the activity is going on within her. She is in a state of utter and complete rejoicing in what God has done, and is about to do. We should glorify the Lord with her!
“From now on all generations will call me blessed….” Mary is aware that the circumstances of today will have implications for the future. She is privileged to take on any mockery for this unique birth story. Mary knows the faithful will call her blessed. We can know that no matter what the world says, the faithful will call us blessed!
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” Mary is present to the fact that what happens in one generation has implications for the next. We too can know that our sowing today will reap a harvest we may never see, and in this we can both trust and celebrate!
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” Mary knows that the humble heart is humble in one’s inmost thoughts, and not just in one’s demeanor. We can ask the Lord of Hosts to make us humble in our inmost thoughts, like Christ!
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” Mary saw the end in mind. The Kingdoms of this world are becoming the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15). We can, and must, see where this is all going; faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen (Heb. 11:1)!
“He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Mary knew her son would be the source of food and drink (John 4:10) for humanity; and she knew the already-satisfied would choose lesser sustenance. We can bring our hunger, our thirst, to Jesus—and be filled!
“He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary knew the covenant story of Israel was being fulfilled in the life of her son, Jesus; she felt the mercy of God in play for her people through the Incarnation. We can see ourselves in that long, covenant relationship that reaches deep into the roots of the story of Israel.
With Mary, let’s magnify the Lord together this Advent and Christmas season!
My soul magnifies you, Lord, and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior! In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you were writing a song of worship right now, what words to describe the Lord would you choose, and why?
For the Awakening,