St Luke 1: 46 – 56
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from 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.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Over the past two years, I guess many of us have needed to find alternative ways to mark our praise of God. Social distancing, worship online, and lack of singing have all altered how we have been able to worship as communities. Where once we could join together with one voice in prayer and song, we needed to find our own ways to ‘magnify the Lord’.
It’s also been a difficult time for our spirit to rejoice. We’ve been faced with the catastrophic effects of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected those from communities affected by poverty and those made up from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. Together with increasing utility costs, decreasing benefits and supermarket shortages, these past months have not been easy on ourselves and our neighbours.
In Mary’s Song, we are faced with this dual reality. A woman who is soon to experience a new normal of motherhood in which there will be difficulty and challenge ahead, reflecting the previous challenge of a rushed marriage. She recognises the context in which she lives – where the powerful need to be brought down a peg or two, where the poor need to be supported and fed. Such a cry for justice is not all that dissimilar from our own cry two millennia later.
Yet we too can relate to her affirmation that gives thanks to God, rejoicing and ‘magnifying’ the Lord for all that God has done for her and the world. In the challenge of the past two years we may have found new ways to rejoice – or maybe we’ve struggled to find that voice. As we encounter the celebration of Christmas, perhaps we too can find a way, whatever our context, to praise the Mighty One who does great things for us all.
O God, the Mighty One,
we rejoice in all that you do in our lives,
for the family and friends who surround us,
for the compassion and generosity in action in our communities,
for the blessing of your presence with us.
May we each be filled with the joy of your love,
magnifying your work in our communities with the weak and powerless,
that all may know your blessing. Amen.