46bMy soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 47my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: 49you, the Almighty, have done great things for me and holy is your name. 50You have mercy on those who fear you, from generation to generation. 51You have shown strength with your arm and scattered the proud in their conceit, 52casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly. 53You have filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. 54You have come to the aid of your servant Israel, to remember the promise of mercy, 55the promise made to our forebears, to Abraham and his children forever.
Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. Today’s lesson is the second part of the story – Mary’s response to the news that she carries the Son of God in her womb.
First it is the angel Gabriel who shares the news with her. And now it is her encounter with her cousin Elizabeth that brings the words to her lips that have been interpreted in many beautiful songs and hymns. The Magnificat, as it is often called, is such a beautiful hymn of praise.
This young teenaged girl who has received such incredible news shares a powerful message of God’s plan to be carried in and carried out through her.
Read again the words of Mary. Can you see God’s plan for Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World through Mary’s eyes? Such a powerful witness to God’s incredible gift.
But why Mary? Why Elizabeth? Why Bethlehem? Why a manger? It seems as if the setting was all "wrong"--a small and rather unimportant little town. We'd have chosen Jerusalem or Rome, where it could have been seen by the important and powerful people of that world. We would have had the birth hailed by more important people than a few shepherds and some wandering astronomers. And instead of an angelic chorus on Judean hillsides, there would have been mighty trumpets announcing the Good News. But God's way was different:
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heaven.
God’s ways are different. The Messiah is different. God’s plan of salvation is different. It is not what God’s people expected. But it is just what God’s people needed. For Jesus brings hope. There is hope - for unto us a child is born. In Jesus there is hope, for Jesus is the one who saves.
It always seems to be that what we want and what we need are often two different things. The people of Jesus day wanted a STRONG MESSIAH. Little did they know what we needed was a baby, God in the flesh. God with us!
During the darkest hours of World War II in England, a gloom swept over the nation as tons and tons of bombs were dropped on London. There was a legitimate fear felt for the safety of the King, George VI, and his family. His staff, therefore, made secret arrangements to transport the king and his family to safety in Canada, for the duration of the war.
Despite the urgings of his advisors, George refused to leave his country in its darkest hour. Shortly thereafter an incident was reported in a London newspaper in which the king was inspecting a bombed-out section of London after an air raid. While walking through the rubble and entanglement an elderly man walked up to King George and said, "You, here, in the midst of this? You are indeed a good King".
God blessed Mary and we are blessed by her willingness to say YES to God. What we receive is God in the Flesh. For in Jesus, we have one who is able to do things we wouldn’t expect of God. The baby is born, grew up and died. He rejoiced at wedding and wept at grave of a friend. He was misunderstood, experienced mental and emotional anguish, and physical pain. He knew the feeling of being abandoned by all.
This baby, the Son of God, experiences what we experience. He walks with us in life. He goes ahead of us to death and to new life. He does all this for you and me. He CAN do all this because things are possible with God.
That is the message of God who became a baby born of Mary and laid in a manger. We may not understand the mystery that surrounds the Christmas event, but we do know that he is Emmanuel, God with us. God is with us in the ugly part of our lives as well as the good. He does not desert us in the darkest hour of our despair. He is there in the midst of the rubble of our broken dreams and the ruin of our tangled lives. Our heavenly King has come into the rubble of our lives to give help and support.
Jesus whole ministry seems to go against what we think we want, and what God knows we need. It will come to a culmination that final week before he is crucified. The celebration of Palm Sunday, Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem is what the people wanted – a victorious parade. A few days later Jesus dies on a cross, and with him, our sins. That is what we need. And on Easter Sunday, death is conquered, and new life is ours. Exactly what we need.
For you see, there would be no Christmas if there were no Easter. A baby born in a stable, with some shepherds talk about some angels, a few astronomers from far away, and a young girl, her husband to be, and the animals. It is a beautiful scene, but it means absolutely nothing to us some two thousand years later, if there is no Easter.
He grew to be a man, and preached a message of love, of forgiveness, of hope. But the message means nothing to us some two thousand years later, if there is no Easter.
He challenged the leaders of his day with a new kind of King, a King who serves, instead of demanding service. For his radical words and life, he was put to death on a cross. But his service and his death mean nothing to us some two thousand years later if there is no Easter.
It may not be what Mary wanted. It may not even on our Christmas list either. And yet, this gift of Jesus is exactly what we need!
Let us Pray. We give you thanks, Almighty God, for Your Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.