39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
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.
51He 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.”
In Mary’s culture, women were second-class citizens. She urgently needed Elizabeth’s support and joy, as they were both unexpectedly pregnant. Pastor Hamilton wrote, “I traveled to the Holy Land and retraced Mary’s steps from the Annunciation to the birth of Jesus. I was surprised to discover that Mary’s journey to Elizabeth’s home would have taken her eight to ten days.”* As Mary sang that God lifts up the lowly, she was a living example of that. She exulted in God’s reversal of human values: “He has pulled the powerful down… and lifted up the lowly.” God valued her, no matter what her social status!
Lord Jesus, save me from obsessing about becoming (or being) powerful and rich. Guide me to use any power or wealth I receive to advance the priorities and purposes of your kingdom. Amen.
Worship God through prayer, Scripture, dancing, singing, coloring, playing instruments and breaking bread, all in honor and praise of God.
During the season of Advent, we are sharing ideas for family activities as we “Countdown to Christmas!” Each day includes a simple way for families to remember what Christmas is all about. See this post and others like it on our @churchoftherez Instagram.
* Adam Hamilton, The Journey: A Season of Reflections. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011, p. 78.
As I considered today’s passage, I thought a “chat” with a long-time Sunday School teacher, Mr. Ned Structor, might provide some perspective on Mary’s “Magnificat.”
DL: Mr. Structor, Thanks for your time. So, what is it like to teach Sunday School?
N. Structor: It is such a rewarding experience. Knowing that you are planting the seeds of God for the next generation of believers is an awesome opportunity & a humbling privilege. Of course there are times when you wonder if the seeds are taking root. Like when I asked a young boy to share what he knew about Adam & he replied, “Well, Adam was the fastest runner in the Bible, since he was first in the human race.” Or the young girl who proclaimed Moses was the biggest sinner in the Bible, since he broke all 10 Commandments at one time. Or there was a young boy’s drawing of Passion Week that included Pontius Pilate flying an airplane above Jerusalem.
DL: Yes, I can see where it would make you pause.
N. Structor: That’s why Mary’s Magnificat is so moving for me. Here is a teen-aged peasant girl singing about the incredible promises of God. How could this young lady speak with such profound theological knowledge & faithful conviction? In one glorious song, Mary is not only sharing God’s history with His people, but also laying out a roadmap of Jesus’ ministry & teachings at the same time.
DL: I would submit that to be able to convey such powerful insights she had to be inspired by the Spirit.
N. Structor: Agreed. But I also like to think that Mary may have been echoing sentiments about God that she had heard through the years. Consider the following:
Maybe she heard her father chatting in the evening with friends about Deuteronomy, or maybe her Mom would sing Psalm 89 or Psalm 107 to her as she was being rocked to sleep, or possibly a Rabbi had sought to encourage a shy Mary by sharing God’s message from Samuel of God’s unending love for those who are humble & meek.
DL: That’s interesting. But what might this mean for us today?
N. Structor: What are we hearing? If asked, could we possibly come up with a response as inspiring & insightful as Mary? If that intimidates us, perhaps we could start listening carefully for God’s Word around us. Maybe we could keep a journal of our notes from our prayers or our Bible readings or worship so we could have a catalog of God-inspired ideas/thoughts at our fingertips.
DL: That’s a great idea. Like this past Sunday, Pastor Steve’s prayer emphasized God’s delight in hearing our prayers, the lyrics of O Come, O Come Emmanuel talked of the Messiah dispersing the gloomy clouds of night, & the sermon cited Zechariah’s proclamation of being a “prisoner of hope.” Just imagine how different our faithwalk would be as we put these thoughts into our daily routines.
N. Structor: As a teacher, that would be so gratifying & exciting. Almost as exciting as the time I shared the story of Philip & the Ethiopian Eunuch with my 6th grade boys class – and no one asked me what a eunuch was.
DL: Yep. That would be a good day for any Sunday School teacher. Thanks for your time.
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