The Song of Mary
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” vss. 46-47
I thought we might have some fun looking at the highlights from last Sunday night’s Christmas dinner. The dinner itself was especially tasty and we had some great dishes. One thing I really liked was Frank Burkhardt’s smoked turkey. I had never had that before and I really liked that. We also had some fun games. The first was that we made living Christmas trees. The pics are up in the lobby but incase you missed them before you came in here are a few. (show pics) the second game we played was the “Christmas Song” game. Everyone was given a small piece of paper with the name of a Christmas song on it. Somewhere in the room was someone else with the same one and you had to find them. The catch is that you had to sing the song as you walked around trying to find your match. But…in order to make sure you knew the songs Claudia went through the songs. She would give us the first word or two and then it was hilarious, everyone would start singing the songs! She had to stop them or we would have spent the whle night singing.. Here’s a few examples.
Angels…we have heard on high.
Silent…night, holy night.
It came…upon a midnight clear.
O.k. you get it, in fact, you’re doing it too. You now, there is something about songs, music, that we all have in common. Music is something everyone loves. There may be different styles and different ways of playing and singing music but we all have some type of music we like. It means a lot to us and usually resonates with our life.
Today, let’s look at a song in the Bible found in Luke chapter 1. If you are able, please stand as we read Luke 1:39-56.
Read Passage – Luke 1:39-56
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 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, 49for 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, even as he said to our fathers.”
Preparing the Way
There is an important exchange that takes place just before we read this song of Mary. Listen to what happens when they see each other; verse 41
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb…” Luke 1:41
To remind you, Mary is pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph doesn’t divorce her, but somehow it was decided between Mary’s parents and Joseph that Mary needs to get a way for a while so she goes to visit her cousin. Mary was facing a lot of hostility and ridicule. The people of her town could have taken her out and stoned her. That would have been within their law. She was a threat to their holiness. She would have upset the town and their way of doing things. Sending her away was probably something they did to protect her and help her. She must have experienced some fear as well. Always wondering if people would turn on her, She could have possible even feel threatened at times. Now she travels to see her cousin Elizabeth. This is their first encounter. It’s an incredible scene where this baby inside Elizabeth recognizes he is in the presence of Jesus. The language here is very telling. The baby just didn’t kick or move. No this was a bigger thing, it leaped. This is a big action. This baby in Elizabeth is John the Baptist.
Note: John’s purpose in life was to announce Christ. Here, even in the womb, he is announcing the arrival of Christ. This baby, even in the womb, doesn’t miss the amazement of seeing Jesus. This is really an incredible scene to think about an unborn baby having the awareness to not only recognize that this baby in Mary is the Christ-child, but it is also announcing that Christ is present. It says in Luke 3:4:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” Luke 3:4
John’s purpose and mission in life was to announce Christ, prepare the way for him, and he is even doing that here in the womb.
But something else of great importance takes place, it happens in verse 42:
“In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:42
Let me put this a little different light for you. Mary has been sent away in disgrace. Even though she has done nothing wrong, it’s better for the family and for Joseph that she go away. She might be feeling a bit down or even confused and here, when she sees Elizabeth, she greets her with a blessing. And a loud one at that. Mary is probably used to people whispering around her. “Psst! She’s pregnant. She’s not married.” Maybe even scowls and sneers. But here, Elizabeth isn’t quiet at all. She’s loud. She’s happy. She’s ready to affirm Mary. She wants everyone to hear that this young woman is an amazing woman who has been given a great honor. It’s joyful, affirming, and must have been so reassuring to Mary and a welcomed voice.
Mary’s Song of…
From that encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, and the encouraging and affirming words of Elizabeth, we see this beautiful song of Mary emerge. Many know it as Mary’s Magnificant. I believe we learn a great deal from these deeply moving words. Let’s look at a few things I picked out from it.
First, we see that Mary song is a song of praise that embraces God’s work in her; vs 46-48:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” vss. 46-48
Mary uses some familiar words here, they are words that were spoken by Hannah of the Old Testament in 1 Samuel. This lets us in an insight about Mary; she knew the traditions of her culture and the Scriptures too. Hannah was a woman who trusted and waited on God and is a testament to the strong character of a woman. She waited a long time and never got pregnant. She wanted a child with all her heart. Her husband loved her in the most endearing way even though she had not children. He was man of real character. Hannah prayed to God and told God if he gave her a child, a son, she would give him back to God. God heard her prayer and she made good on her promise. She had a baby boy and we know him as the prophet Samuel. When he had been weaned, she took him and presented him to the Lord at the Temple. That meant that she turned him over to be raised by the priests. She would only see him on special occasions. Hannah’s song is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 2. Praise, song is so important in our lives. David reminds us of that in Psalm 47:6:
“Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” Psalm 47:6
A follow-up to these stories. Both Mary and Hannah gave up their sons. Hannah to the priests at the Temple but Mary to death on a cross. Both had more children. Hannah had 7 children in all (1 Samuel 2:5) and Mary had 4 more sons and daughters as well.
Mary’s song is also a song about mercy, verse 50:
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” vs. 50
Mercy is kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation. Mary realizes that she is not really worthy of some great respect or honor. Mercy is something that is experienced when you humble yourself and submit to God.
“Mary’s greatness consists in the fact that she wants to glorify God not herself.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
Mary’s attitude and heart are in the right place and in words like these we can see some of the virtue that God saw in her too. The key to Mary recognizing God’s mercy is that she sees it extending back to previous generations. It’s amazing to me that this young woman is aware of the history and legacy of her people. What’s even more amazing is that she looks back at God’s faithfulness, “from generation to generation” to recognize the work that God is doing in her life at this point. She not only sees how God has worked but also understands that this is the beginning of something that will change history forever. She is carrying the Christ-child. The mercy that she feels is the mercy that is extended to us as well. 1 Peter 1:3:
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” 1 Peter 1:3
Through the child born to Mary we are extended the same mercy and the gift of new birth, forgiveness of sin and a new relationship with God.
- Living In God’s Promises
And third, Mary chooses to live in God’s promises. Listen to her words from vss. 46-48:
“He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” vss. 54-55
There is something amazing happening here and Mary acknowledges that. The amazing thing is that she is seeing and being a part of God’ fulfilling his promises. She must have been thrilled in many ways just to understand that God was working and using her. Now all the promises made to the people of Israel, all the prophecies of the Old testament prophets, all the things that they had waited for were now happening right before her eyes. Her pregnancy was part of that confirmation. Paul states thins in Romans 15:8:
“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” Psalm 145:13
Jesus was the confirmation of God’s truth, God’s promises.
A promise from God is a statement we can depend on with absolute confidence. Open it up to the congregation for them to talk about the promises of God that they feel in their life.
Here are 12 promises for the Christian to claim.
- God’s presence— “I will never leave thee” (Heb. 13:5)
- God’s protection—”I am thy shield” (Gen. 15:1)
- God’s power—”I will strengthen thee” (Isa. 41:10)
- God’s provision—”I will help thee” (Isa. 41:10)
- God’s leading—”And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them” (John 10:4)
- God’s purposes— “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil” (Jer. 29:11)
- God’s rest—”Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)
- God’s cleansing— “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
- God’s goodness— “No good thing will He withhold from them that work uprightly” (Psalm 84:11)
- God’s faithfulness—”The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake” (1 Sam. 12:22)
- God’s guidance—”The meek will He guide” (Psalm 25:9)
- God’s wise plan—”All things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28)
Finally, we see that God fulfilling his promises builds a trust in our lives. Note verse 51:
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm…” vs. 51
God is not only trustworthy but is strong enough to hold us and protect us. This is exemplified with the image of his arm.
In Psalm 25:1 we are reminded:
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1
You and I are a masterpiece; God’s masterpiece. He is working in me and you. It’s important to note that.