Mary’s Song

11153760234_82620f4c80_zBy Renee Meyer

As protestant believers, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about Mary outside of Christmas. But I love Mary, the mother of Jesus, and wonder how much we could learn from her, year round. We could all, like Mary, respond to God’s voice by saying, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary responds to God’s choosing of her by breaking into song, a song Bible scholars call “the Magnificat.” That’s a big fancy word for a song that is about being simple and humble and small.

“My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.

And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

(Luke 1:46-55)

Generations of women waited and hoped, knowing God had promised to send a Messiah, a deliverer for the Jewish nation. The entire nation hoped for God’s promised King, and every Jewish woman hoped she would be the one through whom God’s promise would come.

As the women of Israel hoped and waited through 400 dark years of God’s silence, what kind of woman do you think they expected God to choose?

Who do we expect God to choose and use?

I expect God to choose someone who is talented. Resourced. Ensconced in the religious and cultural centers of her world.

But Mary was not chosen for any of those things. As far as we know, Mary was not especially talented, resourced, or connected.

But she was pious, grounded in Scripture, brought up on the hope of the Messiah. And she was poor, in a forgotten corner of the nation.

She wasn’t royalty. She wasn’t even middle class.

In a dark and hurting world, Jesus was born to a peasant teenager. From the beginning of time God chose, on purpose, to birth deliverance and light, His Word, into poverty. Into an ordinary, peasant family.

His mercy is upon generation after generation . . .

And here we sit, in times that feel like night, as if God is silent. Where is God’s mercy in our generation? What deliverance might God be working in our dark, hurting world? How might He be working to birth the light of Jesus today?

As women of God, are we watching and waiting and hoping He will choose us?

From what kind of person do we expect God’s mercy to enter our world? Where do we expect to learn from God, to meet Him?

Perhaps we expect God’s light and voice to come from the educated. The good-looking, the well-resourced, the shiny and well-packaged products of the church and Christian culture.

Is this where we find the light of Jesus? Is this where mercy will come from in our generation?

Maybe.

But we might also find Jesus in our own lives. And maybe we will find the light of Christ in the face of an immigrant, a stranger. Perhaps we could see Jesus in the eyes of the poor, in an unwed mother, in a simple, faithful life. Maybe God’s mercy will come from unexpected places. Again.

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Are you feeling small? Ignored? Unimportant and unseen? Does the thought of God choosing you or using you seem improbable or impossible?

Hear Mary singing to you across the centuries this Advent season.

He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave . . .

He sees.

He sees you.

He values.

He values you.

And He has chosen you to birth His Son, His light and voice into this dark world. You carry the life of Christ in you, sister, into your generation. Are you expectant?

Look for Him. Watch for His hand of goodness and blessing this Christmas and sing with Mary,

. . . the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

A Prophet’s Song

ed5357ee55b6c4fd4fcc51235b514b98Reading through the Old Testament this year, I’ve encountered many prophets. Prophecy is not a very glamorous occupation. Most often the prophets walk a tightrope on a sturdy thread of truth from God while the people of God seemed to be on the other end shaking the rope. They’re constantly on the edge of death and continually spared by the Almighty. But spared for what kind of life?

Hiding,

     fleeing,

          confronting,

     often an example of futile living to an ignorant crowd,

frequently threatened mercilessly by that same crowd.

Prophets were the voice of God to people who seemed to be particularly hard of hearing. Often prophetic news from above was not favorable to their lifestyle here below. So, when the news was as hope-giving as this, I imagine it was with great personal relief that the prophet Isaiah rose to speak to the waiting crowd …

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the LORD restores Zion. 

Break forth, shout joyfully together, You waste places of Jerusalem; For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. 

The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God.  (Isaiah 52:7-10)

Can you hear the sigh of relief between the lines of this song?

Do you sense the lightness in his voice, bright tones as he articulates each word?

Good news, oh yes! But not merely news of a relief effort, a promise of peaceShalom. For the Hebrews, Shalom isn’t just a greeting or a sentiment. It’s THE sign of God’s presence to experience the mutual flourishing that He alone can give. It’s the hope they cling to during oppression from outside forces.

The song tells us that the One who announces Shalom is the Savior who can fulfill it. We call Him Jesus and during Advent we look toward the horizon like the watchmen waiting for His appearance. As faithful followers we lift up a shout of praise – when we gather for Sunday worship, as we take time out of the busyness for reflection, even when we hum along with Christmas carols in the shopping mall.

Much like prophets of old, we might find ourselves walking a tightrope. Proclaiming the truth of Jesus as the Son of God born as a baby and raised to be our Redeemer can be shaky ground in our culture. We may be tempted to keep quiet and settle for the “ho-ho-ho” of the holidays.

But our world is desperate for the promise of Shalom – broken by shame, laid waste by corruption, blind to the hope of a true King. Will you dare to speak the Truth?

May the anticipation of Jesus this Advent season stir you to courage as you sing with the prophet, “Your God reigns!”

I just love this time of year, don’t you? I can’t help but feel the anticipation of a child as the Christmas season rolls around again. Shereen has started our annual Advent time on the blog with the Song of the Prophet. Be sure to check back each week as we hear from a variety of voices singing the songs of the season. You won’t want to miss it! –KJA

The Weekend that turned into Twenty-Two Months

Gallery

This gallery contains 1 photo.

By Debra Hobelman After I moved to Lincoln five years ago, I decided I would like to renew my relationship with my cousin, Terry. After all, we had grown up as first cousins both living in the same small community with just a … Continue reading