Wisbit - November 2014
How Did Mary Become So Adventurous?
If you were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in a venture that would change the world but cost you a great deal, how would you respond? Would you hesitate as Moses did at the burning bush? Would you agree to do it, but then run away as Jonah did? Or would you ask doubtful questions like Gideon?
When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, announcing to her the parenting mission of all time, she asked a question and decided to go for it. Later when her older cousin Elizabeth exclaimed how blessed Mary was, she didn’t say, “Yes, but . . .” (because her being legally unmarried but pregnant made her the scandal of the year—for many years). Instead she poured out a seemingly spontaneous, passionate prayer-song (which is now called the Magnificat; Lk 1:46-55). It is so magnificent that some doubt that an illiterate peasant girl could have composed it. Yet others have caught on that Mary borrowed phrases and ideas from Hannah’s celebration words of Samuel’s birth as well as several psalms (1 Sam. 2:1-10; Ps. 38:6; 71:19; 111:9; 103:17; 98:1; 107:9; 98:3; 132:11). Indeed, girls like Mary often sang Hannah’s song as they did household chores. So Mary may have belted it out many times the way you and I do in the car when our fave song comes up.
The development of this first ever Christmas song is a good example of how bringing Scripture into our everyday rhythms–even in lawn-mowing or dish-washing─can form our thoughts and inner self. Hannah’s language and attitude was so embedded in Mary that it shaped her response to the miraculous event that would change her life (and ours) forever. Both songs:
Mary not only got the words right, but she also understood the heart of God about her circumstances. Even though others no doubt viewed her circumstances as problematic but Mary did not. Instead her song was freighted with words of trust: “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me.”
All of Mary’s treasuring and pondering of Hannah’s words shaped her into a courageous person who faced all kinds of opposition to bless people like you and me. We can be similarly formed. Here’s an opportunity.
Your Invitation to Soak in Advent Passages/Stories: Online Advent Retreat
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be present in the historical events we now call Christmas? What was it like to have years of longing fulfilled (Zechariah or Elizabeth), to reprocess frustration and anger into grace (Joseph)? How would it have felt to be the lowest of the low in society (a shepherd) or a total outsider ethnically, culturally and possibly religiously (wise men) and yet to be included in a world-changing event? What did these people experience, learn and come to know that you and I need to experience, learn and know?
Upper Room is offering an online retreat through my advent guide, Taste and See, November 30-December 27 (or as much or little as you like). This eRetreat includes:
©Jan Johnson, longer version of this wisbit: Christmas: Maryﾒs Merciful Song of Justice
Grace and peace,
© Jan Johnson - For permission to reprint, http://janjohnson.org/reprints.html
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