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Magnify the Lord

December 22, 2018

This little meditation spot is right next to the chapel at Cerveny Conference Center near Live Oak, Florida. In its simplicity it truly does give one a special spot to pause and contemplate. I can only imagine what Mary contemplated as she awaited the birth of her son, Jesus.

When try and put myself in Mary’s shoes and I think of the announcement she received from the Angel Gabriel that was confirmed by her kinswoman Elizabeth… Congratulations, Mary, you are pregnant… the Spirit of God is the one who gave you this gift… the last thing I would see myself doing is singing a song of praise!

Last year I challenged my congregation to see the strong and revolutionary side of Mary instead of the Mary in a Blue Cloak we typically see. Over the years as I have contemplated Mary and her role in the life of faith of a certain Presbyterian Padre, my view has changed radically. Even as I examine and sit with the Hail Mary and sections of the Rosary I see her differently. I have also walked with Mary in the Ignatian fashion during Good Friday and come to see a depth of faith that is often overlooked.

This year, Mary seems to be challenging me in a new way as I prepare for the Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve services.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, the last thing I would be doing if I were in Mary’s shoes would be singing a song of praise! Let’s look at what happened from a strictly rational view.

One–Mary is not married to Joseph and she is pregnant!

Two–the story she told Joseph was pretty… unbelievable! I’m pregnant, Joseph, we haven’t consummated our relationship, and the Spirit of God is the Daddy!

Three–she would have faced the scorn of her neighbors. They would have whispered behind her back and the meaner folks would have condemned her to her face!

Four–What was Joseph going to do? He could abandon her and her own family could abandon her to the streets in the eyes of the Law!

When you put all of this together, Mary should be, by all rights, a mess. She could easily be cursing God and in the manner of Job, curse the day she was born!

Somehow, out of the depths of this incredible experience, Mary did something amazing. She sang a song of praise!

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. (Luke 1:46b-49)

As Denise and I along with members of Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies have walked with Mary’s song via the Presbyterians Today 2018 Advent Devotional God Lifts the Lowly, I know that Denise and I have seen Mary’s song and her spirit from a different perspective.

The lesson that Mary seems to be teaching me this Advent season has been how to live and pray in difficult times. Lord knows that these are indeed difficult times in our nation and world with leaders seeming to lose their minds. Children are separated from their mothers and caged at the border. The poor are squashed like bugs as the greedy line their pockets.

Yet I have heard and read stories about the faith of those at the border who are trying to escape the madness and killing fields in their own countries. Their faith is incredible despite so many obstacles and the hatred spewed by politicians and white supremacists and so-called christians (lower case is intentional).

In the lives and the voices of these immigrants, I hear the strong voice of Mary speaking out against the Empire. 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. (Luke 1:50-53)

Perhaps in this season of hatred and fear we can take courage from the prayer and the spirit of Mary. Perhaps we can be the voice of love in the face of hatred. Perhaps we can be the voice of defiance in the face of the Empire. Perhaps we can be the voice of hope in the midst of the darkness.

Mary is challenging us… will we accept that challenge and be a voice of life, strength, love, resistance, faith, and hope in these dark times?

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