Mary’s Song 2
The Leprosy Mission produces an internal daily devotional guide, The Bridge, for use in offices, hospitals, clinics and projects around the world. Current and former staff and trustees from many countries contribute to the guide. We will share with you contributions made by our staff team.
When the time was right the angel Gabriel shows up to a young woman named Mary. She’s probably a teenager. You could be betrothed as early as 12. About a year later, married as young as 13. She’s in a small town called Nazareth, at that time a very small town. She is potentially illiterate. She is from a poor working-class family. She’s engaged to a man named Joseph. She is preparing for her wedding, and the angel Gabriel shows up. The whole script of her life changes when he says, “You’ve been chosen by God, favoured by God, you’re going to be the promised mother of Immanuel, God with us.” She has faith but questions, and so she asks, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.” The angel Gabriel says, “It’ll be a miracle. God the Holy Spirit, he will enable you to conceive. You’ll give birth to Jesus.”
Mary is also told by Gabriel that her relative Elizabeth, who has never had children, and is beyond childbearing years, has also been blessed of God, and she will give birth to John the Baptist. On hearing of this, Mary is so excited she packs up her things and makes the roughly 100-mile hike through the wilderness into the Judean hillside to go to the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. She spends a few months with them, and we pick up the story in Luke, chapter 1, verse 46.
Mary was away from home. She didn’t exactly know what would await her when she returned. Would Joseph really want to marry her? After all, she said she was a virgin, but would he believe that? Would he divorce her, leave and abandon her? What about her reputation? She was called a harlot, and a tramp. She told everyone, “I love God, it’s a miracle, God made me pregnant.” And they all laughed and made fun of her.
Not to mention the concern for pregnancy. In a small town, without great medical care, plus you’re poor. It’s dangerous. A lot of women died in childbirth. A lot of children died in infancy. In that day, if she was considered a harlot, then they could take her out to the market square, strip her, put rags on her, beat her, mock her, call her a whore, spit on her, and leave her there as an example for all the other women in town. What about her family? Would they reject her? Or believe that God was using her? Not to mention the pressure of being the mother of God. That on its own, for a young girl, is a lot of pressure. She’s a first-time mum. What a way to start. Here’s God, do a good job.
What we read is her language of worship. Now worship is all of life, but it includes singing. She begins by saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” We’re image-bearers of God, we are to reflect, mirror, the love, the truth, the compassion, the justice, the selflessness, the humility of God.
What she’s saying is, “In my soul, even though my life is uncertain-my health, my reputation, my marriage, my family, my future, I’m poor, I’m pregnant -I just want God to be honoured. I want God to be glorified. I want others to see, even in my life, that God is good. And he’s good to me”
Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit”- she is worshiping God with her spirit. It is her spirit and the Holy Spirit intersecting to honour Jesus, the son to be born in her womb, that God the Father might get praise.
More about Mary and the Magnificat tomorrow.