“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor 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 forever.’”—Luke 1:46-55 (NRSV)
These verses from Luke are often called “The Magnificat”, which is Latin for “My soul magnifies”. This is the response Mary gave when the Angel Gabriel told her she would conceive the son of God as an unwed, and most likely 13 year old girl.
If you notice in this response, those who don’t get the best end of the deal are the proud, powerful and rich. I don’t know how many of you are proud, but I know I am in many ways. To have power means to be able to get what we want done done, and this would cover most of us either in whole or in part. And granted, most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves to be rich, but from a global perspective, every one of us would qualify. With this said, if this is what Mary understood God to be doing in Jesus, is this good news for us? For the long answer, come to church this Sunday, December 20, and I will answer this in the sermon. My short answer is, “It depends.”
After more than a decade now in local church ministry, I have come to believe one, but not the only, things God was seeking to accomplish in Jesus Christ was to challenge and change the established order by which society operated. Those who were safe, secure, well-fed and generally free from oppression and victimization were the proud, powerful, and rich. God was responding to this in Jesus Christ by saying this kind of life does not just belong to some but should be for all, and in Christ Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a fullness of life offered which cannot be had in any other way.
Without giving away the rest of the sermon, I believe there are ways this can be good news for us and that there is hope for those of us who are proud, powerful, and/or rich. And that is one of the true gifts of Christmas.
Rev. Kris Tate