“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.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Advent season wouldn't be advent season without taking a look at the Magnificat or Mary's Song in Luke 1:46-56. This passage (a favorite of Martin Luther) gives us insight both into who God is and Mary's willingness to be used of God. The passage is one that we can learn from as we read it. I'd like to suggest that there are three things that Mary models for us that we need to build into our Christian life.
The first thing that we learn from Mary is the importance of listening to God. If you look at vs. 29 we see Mary responding to God, not with argument or fear, but listening to God. Her listening is clear as the bible indicates that she is perplexed She had listened and had begun to process what she had heard. She doesn't freak out or run out in fear - she takes time to listen to the proposition of Gabriel. Consider this - if Mary had not listened to Gabriel perhaps the situation would have been different. If she had not listened she would have not been used by God. Are we, like Mary, willing to listen to God?
God speaks to us. How does He do it? It's not always dramatic like the angel Gabriel coming to Mary, but He does speak to us. First, He speaks through His actions. Actions are the primary vehicle through which He speaks. His greatest action is His coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. In coming in Christ God says, "I love you . . . I want to be with you . . ." In Christ He speaks loud and clear. God speaks to us in a second way - through Scripture. Scripture is the living word of God. All of who Christ is and what He teaches is contained within Scripture. It is not a dead letter, but a living later that speaks to us in the sam way, no in a greater way, than even the angel speaks to Mary. Are we reading Scripture? Are we investing our time in reading God's Word? God is speaking to us through scripture, but are we listening?
The second thing that we learn from Mary is that she not only listens to God, but trusts God. We may all listen to God, but it is our response to God's Word that is significant. Mary's response to these huge claims by Gabriel is pretty remarkable. How many of us would have turned and ran away in fear? How many of us would have at least expressed doubt over what Gabriel had to say? I suspect many of our first reactions wouldn't be to trust, but to doubt and flee. Take a look at vs. 38. Mary trusts in God and ives her life to him. Mary says "may it be done." She trusts God and offers herself us as a living sacrifice to God.
We need to be prepared, like Mary, to offer ourselves us as a living sacrifice to God. In our culture the individual gets raised us. We worship the priorities of the individual - it's all about what we want. God is a memory in the recesses of our minds. It's all about what we want and maximizing our own pleasures and desires. We are about as far away from offering ourselves up to God as we can get. It's all about us.
If we, like Mary, want to offer ourselves up to God - how do we do this? The first step is to realize that it isn't about you. Your purpose and mission isn't decided by you, but by God. Mary very wisely realized that her life was not her own, but God's to be used by Him. Second, take the step of simply telling God that you are available to be used by Him. Take one minute and pray "God I know my life isn't my just about me - please use me for whatever you need me for. I want to be used by you." Be like Mary and trust that God has a great plan for your life.
The third and last thing that Mary teaches us beyond listening and trusting is that a proper response to God is praising Him. This is where the verses above come in. This passage of scripture is referred to as the Magnificat or Mary's Song (one of Martin Luther's favorite passage :). Mary responses to God's words with a long litany of praises therefore putting the focus on God and not on herself. It's about what God is doing and not what is happening to Mary. Mary goes further and praises God not just what He is doing for her. She praises God because His work through her will impact many generations (vs. 50). Mary says that her "soul exalts the Lord" and "her spirit has rejoiced in God my savior." She is truly excited by what God is doing in her life. She praises God because of what He has done with her and through her.
Do we follow the example of Mary and praise God - even a little bit? Praise is simply lifting God us and putting focus on Him. For us to praise God the first step we must take is to recognize the work that He has done in our lives. We can't praise Him until we see what to praise Him for.
May we be like Mary and listen, trust, and praise God for all that He has done in our lives.