“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” (Luke 1:46-48, NRSV)
The scripture passage above is from the song sung by Mary after receiving the news from the angel Gabriel that God selected her to bear his son. Mary, along with John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, who also received a visit from an angel, both play a pivotal role in Jesus’ bringing salvation to the world. It is through their faithfulness that history is changed forever. They see things not for what they are but for what they might be. The conventional wisdom of the First Century would have relegated these women to nothing more than second-class citizens, with an extra dose of shame assigned to Mary for being an unwed mother. For those reading this in the 21st Century, we miss how radical it is for these two women to become spokespersons for God. They are the least likely of prophets to take a revolutionary stand; however, their faithfulness touches our lives today!
Mary’s song, also known as the Magnificat, takes its name from the Latin word translated as “magnifies,” in which she says, “my soul magnifies the Lord.” Mary sings, “His mercy is for those who fear him, from generation to generation.” Then she goes on to predict how God will turn the world upside down— scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, elevating the lowly, and feeding the hungry while sending the rich away empty (Luke 1: 50-53). She understands the baby in her womb will be the most disruptive person ever to walk the face of the earth. He will transform traditional religion into a life-giving relationship rather than just adherence to a set of rules. The disruption to Mary’s life is as significant as anyone’s, and yet she agrees to do whatever God asks of her. This response would be the first of many times she submitted to God with total devotion.
I believe God comes to us even today, maybe not with angel visitations, but with other signs and wonders that point us to his call to be a part of something greater. He’s assessing to see if our faithfulness is only “words deep” or if we’re “all in” and ready for the challenges that only true believers can tackle—faithful followers like Mary and Elizabeth. Most of us set limits on what we’re willing to do for God, and we’ll make some small sacrifices, rationalizing any threat to our security as sufficient cause to retreat. And then we wonder why our faith is routine and mundane? There should be no more adventurous life than one following Jesus!
While Advent is a season of waiting, it’s not an idle season. God is at work shaping us and renewing us to be his servants. Listen for God’s voice and be ready to act. Who knows what God might call you to do? It’s sure to be an adventure!