Magnificat: My Soul Magnifies the Lord
Week 1 December 2, 2020
In this Advent time of waiting and watching,
the words of the angel Gabriel break into our world:
“Greetings! The Lord is with you.
Do not fear, for nothing will be impossible with God.”
We respond with Mary to the angel’s message:
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
We join with Elizabeth to greet the mother of our Lord:
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
We echo Mary’s song of praise:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
In this Advent time of waiting and watching, let us pray:
Gracious God, you come to us in new and surprising ways.
You make the impossible possible.
Help us, like Mary, to answer your call,
that the light of Christ may spread to all the world.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The angel Gabriel from heaven came ELW 265
PSALMODY OR READING
I give thanks to you with
all my heart, Lord.
I sing your praise before all other gods.
2 I bow toward your holy temple
and thank your name
for your loyal love and faithfulness
because you have made your name and word
greater than everything else.
3 On the day I cried out, you answered me.
You encouraged me with inner strength.
4 Let all
the earth’s rulers give thanks to you, Lord,
when they hear what you say.
5 Let them sing about the Lord’s ways
because the Lord’s glory is so great!
6 Even though the Lord is high,
he can still see the lowly,
but God keeps his distance from the arrogant.
7 Whenever I
am in deep trouble,
you make me live again;
you send your power against my enemies’ wrath;
you save me with your strong hand.
8 The Lord will do all this for my sake.
Your faithful love lasts
Don’t let go of what your hands
26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”
38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. 43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.
The Gospel text is two linked stories, which connect other stories in the Gospel. These stories all demonstrate God’s Spirit entering into the human world, into human history.
Luke begins by telling how Elizabeth became pregnant, because of divine intervention through Zechariah, her husband. Six months later, Mary herself has a visit Angel Gabriel, who tells her she will become pregnant and bear a child who will be the Savior of the world. Mary accepts the words of Gabriel. Soon after she runs to the town where Elizabeth and Zechariah live, where she stays, presumably to help them until the baby comes.
I have long been fascinated by this story. As a young mother, I was in a women’s circle with other women who were also young mothers. Those who were not mothers were elementary school teachers. Often during our meetings, the conversation turned to topics related to children – being pregnant, giving birth, raising children, teaching them right from wrong as well as their ABCs.
So, it’s easy for me to imagine these two women bonding over their unusual pregnancies and the births of their unusual children. They must have been wonderful support for each other in the days and even years to come as they raised these boys.
I love these stories, too, because they remind us of how human Jesus was. He was born into a regular family – well, sort of, once we get past the unwed mother status and the Joseph issue. It seems that Jesus was raised in a normal household, with parents, grandparents, and extended family. And siblings.
This reminds us that Jesus knows so well what it is like to be human, to be raised with the same family dynamics of love and rivalry that you and I experience. We know Jesus’ family wasn’t wealthy; tradition teaches us that they were poor, or at least poor-ish. If Joseph was a carpenter, did he have his own shop, or was he an employee? Some speculate that Joseph was a manual laborer, probably a stone cutter, working in a quarry. If that’s true, he was likely quite poor.
These stories of Jesus conception and birth tell us that God wants us to know how much God cares about us. That God would become human, and experience all that humans experience, love, trauma, physical and emotional and spiritual pain, tells us a lot about God’s heart.
God rejoices when we rejoice, weeps when we weep, loves when we love. This Advent season, while we wait with Mary for the birth of her son, let’s be aware of his already-and-not-yet presence among us. Let’s look for him, let’s turn to him, let’s be ready to share him with those who are also looking for him.
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
A list of prayer concerns is gathered.
Each portion of the prayers ends with these or similar words.
O God for whom we long,
show us your mercy.
Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
The God through whom all things are possible
grant you grace, mercy, and peace.
My soul proclaims your greatness ELW 251
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Scripture from Common English Bible © 2011