From the Rector
Luke’s Gospel tells us that not long after saying yes to God’s invitation to become the mother of the Savior, Mary made an arduous five-day trek to visit her cousin Elizabeth (according to tradition, she and Zechariah lived in Ein Karem, near Jerusalem). The moment of their first meeting, with both women carrying miraculous children in their wombs, is one of the most poignant and beautiful in Scripture. In particular, the words Mary proclaims, known as the Magnificat, not only reveal her considerable faith and strength, they also serve foreshadow the mission of the one who was even then growing inside her.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,and holy is his name.His mercy is for those who fear himfrom generation to generation.He has shown strength with his arm;he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,and lifted up the lowly;he has filled the hungry with good things,and sent the rich away empty.
Scientists tell us that babies hear the voices of their mothers while they are in the womb, and thus can recognize their mother by the time they are born. I have to imagine this was not the only time Mary sang these words, but perhaps it became a sort of lullaby, a song she sang to him as she did her chores or felt him kick. Jesus was born, then, with a vision of the radical and upside down nature of the Kingdom of God already planted in his mind and heart – a vision sung to him by his mother from the time he was no larger than a grape.
This weekend, as we make one final Advential stop on our way to Bethlehem, I hope you will ponder the words of Mary, and consider the holy reality she proclaimed. Christmas is not merely about pacifying us for a few days, as we sing Silent Night and exchange presents with loved ones. It is more than a nice story about a wee little baby born to barnyard spectators. It is the inauguration of God’s mission to upend the broken and sin-sick reality we know in order to initiate the new and merciful reality he intended all along. If this is not the song we’re singing, we may need to listen more carefully to Mary to find the right words and tune.
I also hope you’ll think about how your own soul “magnifies the Lord,” to use Mary’s timeless and pregnant phrase. How is your life making larger and clearer and more discernible the attributes of the Kingdom she and her divine Son proclaimed? Do not underestimate the magnifying you can do with your life, for if Mary’s life is any indication, the Holy Spirit can make possible things you can’t yet imagine, and use you to bless our world.
See you this weekend.