Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hope: Mary's Faith-filled Perception

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

(Luke 1:46-55)

In evangelical Protestant circles we (used generally here, don’t be offended) try not to put too much focus on Mary, fearing that we might accidentally dive off into an un-biblical adoration of someone who is not God. Yet in doing this, I think we miss the amazing role that Mary played in the Christmas story. She was not miraculous or heroic by any of her own strength, but was chosen by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to act with humility and obedience. We so often fear calling her holy, yet that is what the Apostle Peter later admonished the early Christians in 1 Peter 1: 15-16, “. . . but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

John Piper writes about Mary’s song (or the Magnificat) in his current Advent devotional, saying, “Mary sees clearly a most remarkable thing about God: He is about to change the course of all human history; the most important three decades in all of time are about to begin.” 

I love studying history, looking back and seeing how God has moved though time and space to shape the lives of His people. When I read Mary’s song, I am amazed at her perception of God’s moving hand. We know she had supernatural insight about what lay ahead (thanks to the angel Gabriel), yet to respond with such assurance at the very mention of God’s promise (especially after 400 years of silence!) is way more than I would do. At best, when I see tiny glimpses of God’s plans at work around me I feel encouraged and hopeful. It often takes hindsight evidence for me to respond like a psalmist. Yet Mary’s faith was so full that she accepted God's call with humility and grace, and praised His name with hope and expectation. Having hope is one thing; responding rightly to that hope is the hard part. We have so much to learn from a simple young woman living in Nazareth over 2000 year ago!

And be encouraged as you listen to “Mary’s Song” by Ordinary Time:

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