Bonnie recently let me know that the fourth Sunday of December will be ‘Mary Sunday.’ The scriptures that day (Luke 1: 39-55) tell the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, her cousin. Both amazingly, were pregnant, ‘filled with the Holy Spirit,’ and Mary sang her powerful and beautiful ‘Song of Praise.’ Her song/prayer/poem is also called ‘The Magnificat,’ because of the first line, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Whenever I heard that story, I would think, “Well, of course. She’s going to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, the King of the World. Why wouldn’t she sing a song of joy and praise?”
But Mary didn’t know what would happen. She was young, alone, engaged, and pregnant. She had left her father’s house to visit an older cousin, and we could imagine that things were not good at home. She wouldn’t have known yet what the angel meant when he or she predicted great things for this child. She certainly didn’t know what her son’s life would be like, or even what would happen when she returned to her father’s house. Would she get married? Be shamed by her relatives? Be stoned for committing adultery?
And yet, in the middle of the situation, Mary believed that she was gifted by God. She sang a beautiful song of praise, and a beautiful song about God’s power to make things right. “He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things but sent the rich away empty.”
She knows she is living in hard times, and in all likelihood, it would get harder before it got better. She was young, unmarried, and pregnant, and she still needed to go home. Her life wasn’t likely to be easy.
But in the midst of that, Mary was able to recognize God’s presence in the moment. The baby in Elizabeth’s womb was kicking. Elizabeth was old but had been given new life. Mary was carrying a child too, even though she was surrounded by trouble. While she didn’t have any answers, Mary could celebrate the goodness that was there.