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.”
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?
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 you.
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.