“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
Why do we anticipate the coming of Christ each year? Haven’t we heard these stories over and over again? Is anything left unexplored in these texts to expand our understanding? I believe each year is a new opportunity to open our hearts and minds to what these events tell us about the God we worship.
This excerpt from Luke’s gospel comes months before Jesus’s birth. Mary’s good gift from God remained safely wrapped within her womb. She traveled to her cousin Elizabeth with this hidden joy, and Elizabeth “blurted out ‘God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43) Can you picture it? Elizabeth, carrying her own improbable child, involuntarily proclaiming Mary’s secret – and naming the child to come a blessing?
Many prepared people have been wrapping gifts for weeks now… some are midnight-before-Christmas types scrambling to get things under the tree before sunrise. Whenever we present our gifts to each other, there is a breathless moment of expectation: did I do well this year? Will my gift be a dud to be passed on to someone else? Do I even know what this person wants? And then the moment of truth comes, a smile and a thank you, and relief for us.
Mary may have been frightened on her way to Elizabeth’s. Could she believe her own memories? Would she be received with love or with rebuke? Would she be believed? Imagine her joy when her fears and doubts were set aside in an instant.
We are invited once more into remembering the joy of Christmas. The Lord we love and long to meet was born in our midst, lived with us, and filled us with hope we can see. Today we offer that hope to one another every time we show up and proclaim the truth that God is love and longs to be in relationship with each of us to a world of individuals in need of community. How are you offering hope we can see this season?
Grace and Peace,