The people of Israel had once again become oppressed by a foreign government (Rome, this time). Once again, the people longed to be free. A young Mary received an unbelievable message – that the one to save her people was coming – in just nine short months! Anyone who has waited for a child knows the agony and simultaneous joy of waiting. And this wait would produce more than just a child (which is enough!). This wait would produce the beginning of a new world. Interesting that Mary, as young as she was, understood what was at stake. Her song celebrates this new world where the low are brought up and the lofty are brought down; where God’s promises will become reality for a weary nation.
Mary spoke on behalf of a nation united in its anticipation of something better. In the United States, the country is just one month into a new presidential office; in Canada, the people are just one year into a new Prime Minister’s governing. Elections are one time that countries are united in their anticipation of something better – and divided in their ideas about how to achieve something better. Perhaps Christmas is a time we can set aside our differences and focus on the things that unite us – striving for a world with no poverty, injustice, and illness. That would be the world God intended, and the kingdom we create more and more every time we work toward those ideals.
Luke 1:26-45 [46-56]:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
[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.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.]