Advent Devotions

Tuesday, December 21

And Mary said,
“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.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

Do you hear angels sing the beautiful choral music accompanying these words, like the majestic arrangements of Bach, the light and airy pieces of Haydn, or others that we’ve come to expect when this Magnificat is set to music? Did you see a young, pregnant, vulnerable girl, feeble, meek and mild, cowering as she recites these words?

Or …

Can you hear the words of a strong peasant girl from the small, working-class town of Nazareth, a town with little to no significance to the world? Can you see a different Mary, a Mary who stood boldly before the angel Gabriel announcing to him and to the world: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Can you see a Mary who accepted the call and then traveled many miles, most likely on her own, across borders to Judea to be with her relative, Elizabeth? Can you see a Mary who had the audacity to be filled by the Holy Spirit as a woman and to challenge the very systems that kept her and her people oppressed?

Can you hear the power as she speaks from her gut, from her soul?

Even in her situation, at risk of the community shaming her for a pregnancy before marriage, she still declares: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The child Mary carried would be a symbol of hope for her as she declared the great things God had done for her. The child Mary carried would be a symbol of hope for all the world as well.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere where I live, today is the day of the year with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night. Every day since the summer, we have been adjusting to the shortening of days with less daylight and early evenings, all leading to this moment. It’s almost as if the natural world around us is journeying together with us through these days of brokenness, only to remind us that hopelessness does not have the final say, that even as we walk through the uncertainties and unknowns of our world, the day does come to give us life.

As the night arrives, light a candle and allow yourself to get lost in the flame, remembering the great things God has already done and looking with hope toward the great things still to come.

Closing Prayer

Be with us, O God, as you were with Mary, that we might see your wonders in the world. Amen.

Copyright 2021 Abingdon Press • Used by permission.