Luke 1:26-38, The Magnificat
Mary said, “My soul declares that the Lord is great,
My spirit exults in my savior, my God.
He saw his servant-girl in her humility;
From now on, I’ll be blessed by all peoples to come.
The Powerful One, whose name is Holy,
Has done great things for me, for me.
His mercy extends from father to son,
From mother to daughter for those who fear him.
Powerful things he has done with his arm:
He routed the arrogant through their own cunning.
Down from their thrones he hurled the rulers,
Up from the earth he raised the humble.
The hungry he filled with the fat of the land,
But the rich he sent off with nothing to eat.
He has rescued his servant, Israel his child,
Because he remembered his mercy of old,
Just as he said to our long-ago ancestors
– Abraham and his descendants forever.” 1
In this, the third week of Advent, the church often reflects on joy. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” and “Have a holly, jolly Christmas” are the sorts of songs and messages we’ve no doubt been inundated with at this point in the holiday season. But what is the joy of Advent?
Mary’s moment of prophetic preaching in Luke, known as the “Magnificat,” gives us an idea. In this powerful sermon-song, Mary magnifies the reality of what the Lord is about to do: there is a time coming soon when God’s mercy, justice and righteousness will be known in the earth and the people of God will be saved. What is the joy of Advent? It is that the great reversal of the Kingdom of God is at hand.
The joy of Advent is that the mercy of God will span generations.
The joy of Advent is that God himself is going to save his people.
The joy of Advent is that oppressive rulers will be removed from their offices.
The joy of Advent is that the poor will be lifted up out of the ashes.
The joy of Advent is that the hungry will be fed while the rich are emptied.
The joy of Advent is that the justice of God is flooding the earth.
That joy is proclaimed, preached and embodied in Mary, the pregnant, unmarried teenager. In Mary’s preaching, a new world takes shape in our imagination - a world marked by righteousness, holiness and justice. And when Mary gives birth, that same new world takes shape in the blood, sweat and dirt of reality as Jesus Christ is born. It is Jesus who will enact the Advent joy of God’s justice being made known and experienced in the world. In Jesus, the justice of God is given presence.
As the wrongs of the world are set right, as we are drawn closer into the presence of God, the only response that makes sense is one of joy.
The joy of Advent is that the justice of God is flooding the earth. If our Advent joy does not contain the justice of God, our joy is not complete.
Here are two areas to reflect on during this third week of advent:
I. Justice: What are ways that you can be a part of God’s great reversal this week? Who are the poor or marginalized in your context? How can you better serve them this week? Look for community organizations can you volunteer with or shelters you can volunteer with. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and discernment about what changes you may need to make in your life to build a rhythm of seeking justice into your practice of following Jesus.
II. Magnify: What are the parts of God’s character that you want to magnify this week? Take time to write your own creative reflection that amplifies what the Lord has done in your life and share it with a friend.
1 Wright, N. T.. The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (p. 108-109). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Words: Geoff Gentry
Photos: Bryan Chung