Life Notes—December 17, 2009
“…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…” Luke 1:46b-48a
These words are the beginning of a passage called, The Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55. It is Mary’s song of praise as she reflects on being chosen to carry and give birth to Jesus. She is staying with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also feeling favored by God as she is pregnant with the child to become John the Baptist. It is a beautiful, joyful passage that has been set to music by many composers, myself included.
There is nothing in scripture to hint that Mary is anything but a typical teenage girl. Aside from birthing Jesus, she performs no miracles or healings. She does not challenge the religious or political authorities. She weeps, like any mother would, at the crucifixion of her son. Yet, two thousand years later she is held in only slightly lower esteem than Jesus, worshipped as a saint by many denominations.
However, there are subtle, yet notable characteristics of Mary, the first contained in the passage above: humble appreciation. She confesses her unworthiness to be favored by God in this manner, yet rejoices that she has been so favored. The second is faithful obedience. To see this we go back to the 26th verse, where the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her she will be conceiving the Son of God. Her ultimate response, found in verse 38, is “Here am I, servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.”
Humble appreciation and faithful obedience is how Christmas began. A regular teenage girl, looking forward to a regular life with a regular husband, in a regular home in a regular town. Until Gabriel appears to tell her life was about to become anything but regular. How do we respond when we find our lives are to become something other than normal? For me, probably not with humble appreciation or faithful obedience. I tend more towards kicking, screaming and complaining when I see my life heading somewhere I don’t want to go. Perhaps these traits were why God chose Mary to begin the greatest story ever told. Perhaps through these traits we, too, can become favored participants in this same story, as it continues to be written through our lives today.
This is the last Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Love. Tom will be preaching from Luke 1:26-56. His sermon title is “Have a Mary Christmas.” Life Worship in Brady Hall begins at 10:45. Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00. Worship at the west campus begins at 9:30. I will sing my version of the Magnificat as a prayer response this Sunday in Life worship—close your eyes and imagine a fourteen-year-old girl with a fifty-something year old man’s voice…
Come home to worship this Sunday! Let your spirit rejoice with ours!
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator