December 5: Humble Joy!
December 5, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
46 And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.’The famous “Magnificat” or Mary’s Song is justly well-known for its glorious, heart-felt, profound, and elevating magnification of Christ. It contrasts him, with his glory and power, with her, in her weakness and frailty. Consider this beautiful line: “For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (v 49). And who is this “me”? She tells us: “humble state” (v 48) (read: poor and marginalized and knows it); “humble” (v 52) (read: and knows her lowly state all too well); “hungry” (v 53) (read: really physically hungry, perhaps, and at least truly desperate). This is the one that the “Mighty One” had done great things for! Her song also mirrors an earlier “promise of [her] ancestors” (v 55), the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 2. The overlap of theme and spirit is notable. Mary is steeped in Scripture and is able to sing in Scripture, too! She recognizes in this moment before her (in her!) a fulfillment of that moment to Hannah who spoke of the anointed one to come. What a God is this who “has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever” (vv 54-55)! Would you then, this Christmas, look not on your “state,” whether poor or rich, honored or defamed, and instead look to the One who delights in elevating the lowly for the sake of his glory? Would you not rely on your riches – if you have them – and instead rely on him? And would you, whether male or female, sing along with Mary of the gratuitous grace of the Son of God who came down to earth to rescue his people? In the old words of the Book of Common Prayer:
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.]]>
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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