46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49 because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
55 just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
We’ll return to this passage during Advent. Mary’s poetic praise fit the theme we’ve looked at this week: gratitude for God’s concern for justice. Mary said God had “looked with favor on the low status of his servant.” The second part of Mary’s song showed that the effects of John’s and Jesus' births went far beyond two happy rural families. Pastor Adam Hamilton wrote that many of us “fail to realize how subversive, even revolutionary, Mary’s song really was…. Mary’s words should make us uncomfortable. They point to a concern God has for the poor, and a sense that the rich have received theirs already.… We have the obligation and calling to be used by God to ‘fill the hungry with good things.’”* Or as Jim Wallis said, “Jesus tells us that the most important people are the ones he called ‘the least of these,’ even while they are the least important ones in our politics today.”**
Lord Jesus, teach me how to keep my mind and heart open to your more challenging blessings. Give me the wisdom to share what I have, not to hoard it just for myself. Amen.
Don’t let giving thanks end with just one November day. Encourage your family to give thanks daily to God for your many blessings. Read Psalm 100. Create a gratitude collage. Gather a piece of colored poster board, some magazines, a few markers and some glue or tape. Invite everyone to draw pictures and write words representing what they are thankful for on the poster board. Add some cut-outs from magazines, too. Consider leaving some blank spaces so family members can add onto it through the week. Write a verse or two of Psalm 100 on the poster board. Each day take time to give thanks to God for all your blessings and celebrate every moment!
* Adam Hamilton, The Journey: A Season of Reflections. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011, pp. 87-90.
** From online video at https://www.facebook.com/SojournersMagazine/videos/510587169792795/.
*** Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, study note on “Blessed” in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Common English Bible, 2016, p. 1288.
Luke 1:46-55. “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.”
Like Mary, I too, rejoice in God! With all my heart! In the depths of who I am! Why? Because of all the great things God has done! God has shown me mercy. God has given me strength. God has filled me with good things and come to my aid time and again. Just like Mary.
For example, God helps me not be afraid when my relationships are hard. God enables me to stop from striking back when I’m angry. God makes me secure enough to be tolerant when I’m with the intolerant. God shows me how to express appreciation even when I don’t feel appreciated.
I know I am not a bias-free person. I have caught myself making racial comments that caused embarrassment and pain. I have perpetuated hurtful stereotypes of those who look and believe differently. God has patiently, persistently helped me face my own prejudice and forgiven me. And promises to do it again.
Jim Wallis reminded us that Jesus says our neighbors are those who are unlike us. How we respond to them is how we respond to Him. He is present in the stranger, the prisoner, the homeless person, the family without a country. When I encounter them, I do hope I treat Him well.
I remember He’s the one who first treated me well. He started it! (I John 4:10,19) I am always in His debt, gratefully so. Joyfully so. Like Mary. That’s why I praise Him. And bless Him. With all my heart. With all that is in me. In the depths of who I am.
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