As we wind through the season of Advent, it reminds us that the darkness will not last forever, that God did and does intervene in our lives, and that the story isn't over yet…I thought it would be good to look at the prayer that erupted from Mary's soul when she received a message from the angel Gabriel that would forever change her life and ours.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And 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 mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
As I look at the average 14 year old-ish person today, I wonder if God could have found someone who could be torn away from their cellphone long enough to realize that God was inviting them to experience something beyond their wildest imagination.
Mary was most likely 14-15 years old when Gabriel entered and ultimately turned her world upside down. She wasn't from a highly wealthy, political or even spiritual family. She was like us, and that is what makes the Incarnation so powerful. It's not about superstars or perfect ones…it's that good uses the unexpected ones to do unexpected things!
Beneath the urgency of the angelic visit, the bottom line of Gabriel's message to her was not only would she a portal for the Divine, but that her reputation was about to be destroyed… her fiancee' would soon struggle deeply with his sense of what was right… the Yentles of the village would begin to spin their tales of the newest unwed mother… and imagine what Mary's own mom and family would assume at the news that she was pregnant…
Who would really believe this unexpected truth?
In fact, Mary would carry this cloud of faith and pain all her life about the identity of her son. Her own soul was pierced as she stood at the foot of the cross, but she was vindicated when Jesus rose from the dead proving He was who she had said he was…but by that point, Mary really didn't care about vindication… because an encounter with the messiah changes the way we see and view all of life.
Here are a few things that Mary's prayer reminds me of:
1. Even when our circumstances are dismal, if we live with God in our soul, we can still be happy.
2. No matter what political, cultural, economic, or intellectual value we have or don't have, we are all highly valued and loved by God…that's the point of the Incarnation…God came on a rescue mission, not a condemnation mission.
3. God always responds to those who are seeking Him and His ways.
4. God is faithful to His promises…don't give up too soon!
5. God's kingdom is an upside down kingdom…
If you want to be first…be last
If you want to lead…serve
If you have needs…give something away
If you want to be blessed…admit that you are not in control of that blessing…
In this prayer, Mary taps into the truth that God is sovereign over everyone whether we acknowledge that or not…He is currently at work, and we each have our part to play in the Meta-Narrative of life. The story is not about us, it is about Him…however, how awesome it is to have a role in the greatest story ever written,