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  • Dec15Fri

    Learning to Praise and Worship – Part 2: Mary

    December 15, 2017 by the TWR Canada Women’s Ministry Team
    Filed Under:
    Women of the Bible
    We are well into the Advent season, a time we focus our attention on the holiness of the birth of Christ. Some church traditions put more focus on this than others, but taking time each week to light another candle invites us to a season of reflection. It also brings to mind the idea of waiting.

    In Luke 1, (last month we talked about Elizabeth) when Elizabeth sees Mary, the child within her leaps for joy. Elizabeth had waited a very long time for a child of her own. Now Mary was waiting, and any woman who’s had a child knows the bliss and agony of that expectant wait to give birth. Mary also had the added complexities of being unmarried and pregnant with the Saviour; her waiting could have been filled with worry and fear, but it wasn’t.

    Luke records a song by Mary called “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55). The title comes from a literal translation of the first line from the Latin: magnificat anima mea Dominum (literally, “My soul praises the Lord”). The title simply means praise, and it’s worth some reflection that this is what Mary sings during her time of waiting.

    What does Mary pause to sing praise about at this joyous and unexpected greeting from Elizabeth, who miraculously already knows Mary’s secret? What was it about God’s character that she found so meaningful, encouraging and worthy of praise? (Remember, what she’d been asked to do was not an easy task—being mother to the Saviour.)

    The Magnificat brings into focus a number of disparities. Mary sings about how God has seen her humble circumstances and has done a great and mighty thing through her, a nobody. She sings that God has scattered the proud, brought down the mighty from their thrones and instead lifted up the humble.

    Mary’s time was not so different from our own; there were many others who were more beautiful, richer, and influential women in Jerusalem or even Nazareth. Yet she is the one that was chosen. And she is full of praise for a God who saw HER, where she was, as she was, and chose her to carry out this blessed duty.

    She sings that God fills the hungry and sends the rich away. He scatters the mighty and exalts those of humble estate. God remembered his promise to Israel. She sings of his great mercy, holiness and faithfulness. She does not speak of personal glory or significance. There are no notes of doubt, misgivings or flagging faith. She simply trusts.

    Mary’s song is radical.

    This is a song of praise and rejoicing for the end of a long wait for Israel and the beginning of a shorter glorious wait for her. Mary’s song teaches us about what should matter, not just in this season of waiting for Christmas, but for our lifelong faith walks.

    So many Women of Hope listeners are waiting. They quietly endure the agony of waiting for a husband or a wayward child to return. They wait for better circumstances, to no longer feel so alone, or to be delivered from their shame. They are waiting for help, for justice, for encouragement, for security, for the assurance only an eternal hope in Christ can bring. And through our programs and prayer groups, they learn to trust. They learn to hope. They learn that God is with us, today and forever.

    Pray for these women this season. As we progress through the Advent season and busy ourselves with the many preparations of Christmas, remember the simple and humble joy of a girl who knew God had seen her, and despite her humble circumstances saw her faith and rewarded her for it. This is the blessing to be found at the end of a (short or long) season of joyful waiting.