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Advent Reading 1: Mary's Song

Hope has come! During this first week of advent, we will take a look at Mary's song. Here's the first advent devotional for this week. Full text is below. The entire advent reading guide is available here

 

Mary’s Song

November 30-December 6

 [46] And Mary said,

            “My soul magnifies the Lord,

            [47]     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

            [48] for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

                        For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

            [49] for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

                        and holy is his name.

            [50] And his mercy is for those who fear him

                        from generation to generation.

            [51] He has shown strength with his arm;

                        he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

            [52] he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

                        and exalted those of humble estate;

            [53] he has filled the hungry with good things,

                        and the rich he has sent away empty.

            [54] He has helped his servant Israel,

                        in remembrance of his mercy,

            [55] as he spoke to our fathers,

                        to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 

 

Luke 1:46–55

 

Reading 1: 

A.W. Tozer opened his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy with these words: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” There are many views in the world about who God is and what he is like. Some see him as a grandfather, others as a tyrant, while some even see him as a version of Santa Claus. But, what does God say about himself? What does he say about who he truly is? 

 

As we turn to the song of Mary, the Magnificat, we see that she shares a view of God that is at odds with many of the worldly ideas of God. After talking about how God had been mindful of her, she continues her song as follows:

“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;” (Luke 1:49–51) 

 

Mary describes God as one who is “mighty,” painting the picture of a warrior extending an arm of strength to bring forth his purposes. And one of his aims is to exalt the humble and bring down the proud. Mary recognizes that it is God who is mighty, who is able to take the lowly and lift them up and change their status. The Mighty One has taken Mary from the place of a lowly servant to a place of blessing and honor.

 

But how does God do this? Well, the answer is tied to the very reason we celebrate Christmas. God the Mighty One is able to bless the lowly by himself becoming lowly. Paul writes in Philippians, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8). 

 

The God of the universe humbled himself in the most incredible way. The same God who cannot be contained by the highest heaven chose to make himself small, so small to fit in a womb, Mary’s womb. This great act of humility was the gracious act of the Mighty One for Mary. This is why she can say, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

 

But, the blessing Mary receives is not for her alone. As her song continues, we read these words: “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50).

 

Mary understands that what God has done for her represents or sets into motion what God is doing for his people. Mary serves as our sign that what God has done for Mary, he will do for us. Just as he reversed Mary’s status and showed her favor and mercy, he will do the same for us.

 

May we all take time this Advent to reflect upon what Mary teaches us about God in her song. He is a God who desires to be known personally and by what he does for us. He is a God who loves freely and freely acts mercifully on our behalf. And, he is the God who came to this earth so that he could be among his people, coming in humility so that he could also take each of us from our humble state to a position of blessing and honor.

 

Think about it

What are some ways you have seen God act mercifully toward you in your life? What are some things he has done for you this week? Share those with someone. 

 

Pray

Our Lord Jesus, there are so many reasons you came to us. Today we praise you for coming to us and showing mercy to us. We have no hope of having a relationship with God without you. Thank you for acting mercifully toward me in my life. Help me to act mercifully toward others. Amen.