Advent 3 Midweek – 2011

Text: Luke 1:39-56
Title: My Soul Magnifies the Lord

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

One of the times in my life that I will never forget is my final year at the seminary.  My first two years at the seminary, I was engaged, but single. I lived in the dorms, ate in the cafeteria, and studied whenever I needed/wanted to. We got married and moved to south Florida for my year of vicarage. But when we got back to St. Louis, things were different…I had a wife! We spent all of our time with married couples, the food drastically improved, my study habits had to change…but one of my favorite parts about being back was that half of the year, we were expecting…and watching Chelsea and a few of her friends, who were also expecting, interact, converse, talk about the changes they were experiencing, the things they were reading, the plans for the nursery.  It really made for a special time in our life together…

Women embarking on the new and exciting endeavor of motherhood.  The two women in question have no business being with child.  One, far too old…the other, not married, moreover, a virgin.  But it’s these two whose conversation we are privileged to overhear.  It’s these two blessed women whose exchange sets the tone for the rest of the Gospel of St. Luke.

And the words recorded start off sounding like a lot of the same things that I heard when Chelsea was pregnant.  “He’s kicking!” or “He just rolled over!”  What an amazing event, in and of itself.  But Elizabeth speaks words given her by the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit revealed to her, and to you, that this fruit of Mary’s womb is blessed. It’s the Lord Himself. It’s God with us.  It’s Jesus, who comes to fulfill that which was spoken to Mary. John the Baptist, even before he was born, is pointing to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  What an incredible act of God that Elizabeth is given the words to express the joy that John receives when Jesus enters the room.  Elizabeth speaks the words that John would proclaim some thirty years later.  Truly Blessed is this One who Comes in the Name of the Lord!

But Mary has a response to Elizabeth too…to Elizabeth and to you.  Mary’s song, called the “Magnificat,” which is Latin for “magnifies,” the first words of the song, “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”  These words of faith are an incredible testament to who God is and how He acts throughout history.  His mercy is on those who fear Him, He scatters the proud, He brings down the mighty and exalts the humble, He fills the hungry and sends away the rich, He has helped His servant Israel, according to His steadfast love, His covenant, the one He made with Abraham and with His offspring forever…Well, those are the words that are there, but what hope does this song offer us? (Pause)

Mary’s song is, in a very real way, our song.  She sings from the perspective of one who is humble, that is, lowly, dare I say humiliated, in the lowest estate imaginable…a young girl, pregnant, out of wedlock, worried, and frightened with nowhere to turn, yet the only thing she has to hold on to is a promise given her by God.  And such are you.  If the season of Advent has reminded you of anything, I pray that it is your need of Immanuel…your need to have God among you…your need to have Jesus in your life, breaking in, tearing his way in through your thick skull and your dark heart…to bring you light and to bring you life.  That’s what we celebrate at Christmastime…that Jesus came into a world that wasn’t looking for him.  But a world, nonetheless, that so desperately needs him.  Mary’s song is great in that it points out many and various ways that God has acted on behalf of the lowly and the downtrodden.  It lauds and praises God for redeeming and rescuing folks like you! Throughout history, God has lifted up, not those who have great status or wealth, but those who believe His promises.  Truly you will be called blessed for all of time…Truly you will be lifted up, because God Himself is mighty–because God Himself is holy.  And because Jesus Christ, the fruit of Mary’s womb, has come into the world and has borne your sin and become your savior, He has given you every blessing imaginable…God Himself has visited you in the flesh, and even now, He resides among you, He is God with you, He is Immanuel, who comforts you in your affliction, and grants you forgiveness and life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And so we join in the song of Mary, of the promises given and the fulfillment that is found in Jesus alone.


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