Wednesday 15th December
"Your mercy reaches from age to age
for those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm;
you have scattered the proud in their conceit;
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones
and raised the lowly to high places."
Luke 1: 50 – 52
My childhood Christmases often included my Mum singing ‘Breathe of Heaven’ by Amy Grant at some Christmas gathering. It was never not moving. Perhaps it was because it was my Mum singing or just the time of year or maybe it was the words of the song. It was quite likely it was all of these things. What I love about the song is that it’s written as though Mary was singing it, in doing so it opens us up to the reality of being human and grappling with the divine. Of course Mary was literally carrying the divine. There was something though about the isolation that was experienced by Mary, her being the only one, the chosen one of God. Loneliness, though she was with Joseph, was her state.
There is, naturally, a separation in child carrying and bearing between men and women. There is something felt and known by a female that a man cannot quite fathom or get his head around. No matter how hard a man tries to sympathise or understand he’s inadequate by God’s design. I’ll never forget the labour room and feeling pathetically helpless while the woman I love, voice-less, brought forth life. I noticed then that making a noise and having a voice are very different! What I have observed with the women in my life, and women in scripture, is that their voice is loudest by what they do rather than what they say. I have been made aware that women’s words make up a mere 1% of the entire Bible. Mary’s audible voice response to the angel Gabriel was at most 15 words - “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (NIV) - her silent inner voice lasted around 36 weeks and changed the history of humanity forever!
To be clear, Mary wasn’t gagged, she wasn’t told to be quiet and get on with it, in fact, as far as I can tell, she was given more grace than Zechariah to be inquisitive about what was spoken over her. It’s that she used her audible voice to speak the loudest about what mattered most. To Mary what mattered most was the glory of God. In my view, Mary’s Magnificat is a sign of kingdom arrival, a sort of gospel posture, that we ought to make far more room for the voices of women to help us to see and acknowledge what matters most.
We can say this too because for such a young girl she had a grand view of God! What we see in the text for this week is Mary’s revelation about the sovereignty and longevity of God’s mercy to the humble. Mary is the personification of humility and her life’s story confirms that humility is not learned or earned but that it is produced through a correct view of God. Not only did she sing this view of God, her silent voice submitted to Him and that, ultimately, was what mattered most.
Jacob Crolla is a husband to Olivia, father to Elysia, Aria and Ezra and Pastor to the people of Life Church. He writes, "life attributes many titles to us and I’m never sure the order of priority. It is also true that the many titles don’t tell the full story! My biggest achievement was not my own but that of Jesus who has saved me and brought me into the family of God. Because of this I’m so passionate about a life ordered around the kingdom of God being made known on earth as it is in heaven, and in particular to Edinburgh where God has called me to serve."