GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
Advent 4: (19th December 2021)
Is Mary’s Song Your Song?
Reading: Luke 1:39-45
In a few days, my dear brothers, and sisters, we will celebrate the Feast of Christmas. Luke tells us that Mary realizes that the hour when God's promises will be fulfilled is just behind the door. Through her, the Son of God becomes the Son of man. She is ready to assume her responsibility and bring forth our salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life¹.”
Mary was carrying a miraculous baby inside of her. I have friends who were wonderfully able to become parents some years ago. They were formerly told there was absolutely no way they could ever have a child, and so to have a child for them was quite a miracle. The pregnancy and the birth were a cause for great rejoicing, and yet the miracle of Jesus being conceived within Mary is not the same as my friends having their baby. Mary was pregnant because God had wrapped himself up in human flesh and God had chosen Mary to be His earthly mother. A unique miracle!
Mary was carrying a baby who was to be the cause of great joy in others; and it didn’t take long for her unborn baby to inspire joy and worship.
If you had just been visited by an angel; if you had just been told you would become pregnant with God’s Son²; if you were not quite sure how to explain your pregnancy to your partner; I wonder who you would confide in. Well, the angel had told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was amazingly pregnant in her old age³, and so Mary hurried off to see Elizabeth⁴; and for three months the cousins became ante-natal partners! No doubt they talked about the subject of pregnancy and childbirth, but it’s their initial conversation and Mary’s Song of Praise that I would like us to focus upon for a few minutes; and as we do so, could I ask you this question: Is Mary’s song your song?
In the Bible Jesus is sometimes referred to as the ‘Word’. In John’s Gospel we read that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.⁵ ”.
John continues by saying that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.⁶ ”
Mary was literally carrying the Word of God inside her; and her cousin Elizabeth was filled with joy when she encountered God in this way. Elizabeth was in the presence of the unborn Jesus and two things happened:
Elizabeth’s own unborn baby (John the baptiser) leapt in her womb⁷.
Elizabeth herself was filled with God’s Holy Spirit and she began to say things in a loud voice concerning Mary, concerning the blessed child Mary would bear, and concerning Mary’s faith in God’s promise.
It seems to me that the prelude or the prologue to Mary’s song is her willingness to be an instrument in the hands of God. Mary’s attitude throughout her pregnancy was this: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.⁸ ”
It seems that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was really not very ‘Anglican’ at all! In a loud voice Elizabeth puts Mary’s attitude and Mary’s humble willingness into words: “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.⁹ ”
And my dear brethren, Mary continued by saying that “[God’s] mercy is for those who fear him.¹⁰ ” “He shows mercy to those who honour him” (GNB).
The birth of Jesus signals God’s intentions for his world, and he asks each one of us to join in with his intentions! God lifts up the humble – the lowly¹¹. He fills the hungry with good things¹². and He asks us to do the same. Mary spoke and probably sang these words – Jesus lived them out in order to show us what God is really like, and he wants us to follow in his footsteps! He made Mary’s song his song, will you make Mary’s Song your song at this Christmas?
Have a blessed and joyous Christmas and a peaceful year 2022.
The Most Revd James Wong
Primate of The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
Steering Committee Member
Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches
¹ ESV Bible John 3:16
² ESV Bible Luke 1:32: “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 father David”
³ ESV Bible Luke 1:36: “And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.”
⁴ ESV Bible Luke 1:39: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah”
⁵ ESV Bible John 1:1-2
⁶ ESV Bible John 1:14
⁷ ESV Bible Luke 1:41: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
⁸ ESV Bible Luke 1:38
⁹ ESV Bible Luke 1:45
¹⁰ ESV Bible Luke 1:50
¹¹ESV Bible Luke 1:52: “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”
¹² ESV Bible Luke 1:53: “