Advent Devotional – December 3

Advent Week 1: Hope

December 3

Luke 1:46-55, CEB

Mary said,

“With all my heart I glorify the Lord! 

   In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. 

  Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored 

       because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.   

   He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God. 

He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.   

   He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly. 

He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed. 

He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,    

 just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

Let us not be lulled by the beautiful phrases and the inspiring notes of Johann Sebastian Bach. Mary’s song, The Magnificat, is a stunning statement of Divine values and priorities, and a shocking refutation of human concerns. It is also a love song. Slowly. Read it slowly. Don’t get lost in the cadence and music.

It starts out personal: “I glorify,” “I rejoice, “[God] has looked with favor…, [God] has done great things for me.”  Who can’t get on board with that? In this season of lights, we sing with Mary, because we know how blessed we are. Every time we hear the Salvation Army bells and throw a dollar in the red kettle we are reminded God has indeed done great things: for Mary, for you, for me. But even in these early verses, there’s an undercurrent, the feeling of a strange wind stirring: “[God] has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.”

In the second part of the song, the wind of the Spirit blows stronger, breathing life into a whole new order, a whole new way of being, and it is spoken of in the past tense. It “has been” done, Mary sings, but like the babe she carries, it is still a birthing. Read between the lines to a whole new set of beatitudes: Blessed are the humble, blessed are the lowly, blessed are the hungry. And a whole new set of woes: Woe unto those who are arrogant and proud, woe unto those who are powerful, woe unto those who are rich. Woe are we!

Mary’s song, placed at the beginning of the Gospel, is a song of expectation, for God comes bearing hope. Hope for all who are overlooked, who long for a place at the table, who hunger for peace and justice. Hope that is fully human and fully divine.  This is where God’s will and human longing meet.

The Magnificat is a song of praise to the God who sees human suffering and takes it personally, who responds with love and mercy, who remembers and honors promises made generations ago. It is a song of calling. A calling to let go of striving for things that drain us but don’t restore us, that deplete our time and energy without enhancing our lives or the lives of others. God is calling us to wake up, to feel the wind of the Spirit moving within our hearts and to join the holy labor, giving life to God’s vision with all our talent, might, and resources.

God invites us to join Mary, to sing the song of a new reality, and to sing it with all our hearts and minds and souls.

Prayer:  May I feel the wind of your Spirit on my heart and mind today, and may the song of your love guide my every action. Help me to bring your divine hope into every encounter. Amen

Action:  Take time today to read Mary’s song again. Read it slowly. Let the words and phrases sink deep into your spirit. Where is the wind of the Spirit carrying you today? Follow the example of Mary: embrace it, rejoice in it, and join the holy song.


Vicki Lumpkin is Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator for Hospice of Rockingham County in North Carolina.


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