Advent Meditation: Sunday, December 20, 2020

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 or Luke 1:46b-55  •  2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16  •  Romans 15:25-27 • Luke 1:26-38

Mary rejoices! She rejoices because God has called her to God’s story and cannot help but participate. Her words, heard thousands of years after they were spoken, call us to the same.

To read the Magnificat, we must begin by reflecting on the passage before – wherein Gabriel visited and announced the coming of the “Son of God,” that this child is to be born in the lineage of the great Hebrew King, David. We learned that this new royal son is to bring into creation a new reign, an eternal reign of God.

“How will this be?” Mary asked, and we may wonder, too. What is God doing here, with an unwed mother visiting a poor relative?

The angel puts her heart and mind at rest, reminding her that this is the God of the Hebrews who had done miraculous things, things that cannot be believed, things that are told from parent to child. This is the God who sent Abraham wandering. This is the God who gave Sarah a child in her old age. This is the God who brought Joseph into Egypt and protected him there. This is the God who freed them from slavery and provided for them in the desert. This is the God who returned his people to their land and built up a great city and temple, Jerusalem. This is the God who loves his people. He is inaugurating a new heavenly reign in which all the world will be invited to participate and to dwell within. “Yes,” we might say, “This is the God of those who have been forgotten, who are in need, or who live on the margins. Now I remember.”

Mary knows God, and she trusts God with remarkable vulnerability. I imagine Mary reflecting on the story of her people and the immense sense of collision with her life and this news from Gabriel. I could not describe the potential of this moment; but Mary does, and speaks out proclaiming God’s greatness and her willingness to serve the Lord, to be obedient in all things. Mary knows and calls out that this God keeps his promises and is faithful to God’s people.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior … He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.”

Mary exclaims God’s vision with delight, knowing that she has been invited into God’s story for the world, the Word.

The birth of Jesus was a prophetic challenge to the world order; God’s story in Christ challenges the status quo with ethical and moral sensitivity. God, through Mary, calls us to speak truth and act in a world hungering for deliverance from greed, poverty, oppression, malnutrition, abuse, illness, war, and all the other dark and evil powers we have created and come to know. It is not to Caesar Augustus or Quirinius that this God comes to, but the God we believe in comes to the lowly. So it is that we are to open our hearts to this God that our own lowliness and shame may be transformed. So it is, as we prepare to receive the Word at Christmas, that we are to open our hand and lives to those around us.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, DD
IX Bishop of Texas
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas

The Advent Meditations and Prayers are a gift to our seminary community and are made possible through gifts to our Annual Fund. Seminary of the Southwest appreciates the support of its friends, alumni, and the communities around the world that its graduates serve for the glory of God. This support ensures that Southwest, as an institution made of individuals dedicated to service to God and their fellow members of the body of Christ, can continue doing its part to build the body of Christ.

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