December 23, 2018
This passage for today is what has been called “The Song of Mary.” It’s also been called “The Magnificat.” Maybe you’ve heard that term before. It comes from the Latin word Mary first sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” “Magnificat.” Over the years, that “song” has been set to music by the likes of Bach, Handel, and probably Mozart.
The Magnificat is a great song of praise and wonder, and it comes from Mary’s thoughts as she considers what is happening to her. And as I think about that, I wonder, could she grasp the magnitude of what was happening to her? Could she grasp the magnitude of her unique role in all of history, that she was chosen to be the mother of God’s Messiah?
I have to say, that I really don’t think so! Not at that moment, anyway. Even if she did know all that was to take place, she still wouldn’t be able to fathom it! But she did know two things! And I want us to consider these things for ourselves. First, she knew the greatness of God. She knew something very important was happening! And second, she knew her own humble nature.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,” she sang,
“and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.”
Mary recognized that she was a common girl. We might say a “peasant girl.” But she saw, as incredible as it must have seemed, that God was doing “great things” with her. And she knew she didn’t deserve any of that! But God was doing it, anyway!
I have to think that hers was the state of all humanity. Humanity did not deserve what was happening. As Paul would later say, “It was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us.” It didn’t happen when we deserved it. It didn’t happen when we were at our best, but when we were at our worst! No humanity did not deserve what was happening. And humanity couldn’t grasp the magnitude of it.
So, what about us? As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, tomorrow – in just a few hours – what do we think about it? Do we grasp the magnitude of this event we celebrate? Or do we focus on the conventional things surrounding it – the stories, the music, the décor? And there’s nothing wrong with that! Don’t get me wrong! This is “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the old song tells us. But all of those things remind us of what God has done! Or at least they give us a tiny inkling! Can we, like Mary, know something important has happened, even though it’s hard for us to understand the magnitude of it?
That’s the thought for tomorrow, and what’s left of today. It is hard to comprehend this time when God himself stepped into history and became one like us. But that’s ok. We can still celebrate. We can still “magnify the Lord.” We can know our own “low estate.” And we can celebrate the great mystery of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, full of Grace and truth!
Eternal God, as we draw near to Christmas, draw near to us. Help us to know your presence more fully, and help us to grow in our understanding of this event we celebrate. For this we pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.