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Remember her joy!

Wednesday 8th December

Odele Harding

‘My soul proclaims your greatness, O God,

and my spirit rejoices in you, my Saviour.

For you have looked with favour

upon your lowly servant,

and from this day forward

all generations will call me blessed.

For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me, and holy is your Name.’

Luke 1: 46b – 49

In February 2017 I found out I was pregnant, for the third time.

I remember a flurry of emotions because my previous pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage. I wanted this baby to be safe and well. Whilst I saw this pregnancy as an answer to prayer - that I wanted to shout from the roof tops to declare what God had done - I also wanted to keep silent because of fear and my desire to stay safe.

In Luke 1:46b-49 we read some of the 191 words that Mary says in the entire Bible.

In The Message translation Marys words describe that, ‘I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my saviour God’.

I can testify to feeling that bursting, dancing and excitement when I found out that I was pregnant. February 2017 was a month of celebration! And then in October of that year, more celebrations, upon the safe arrival of my child; whose name means ‘God is Good’.

However, I have wondered what would have happened if my story had not ended in this positive way and I had lost another baby?

There are so many women who are longing to conceive, to carry a baby and be called Mum.

There are also women who have chosen not to have a child but have other heart longings that if it came into being they would burst with joy. A question I ask myself is, should these moments of joy simply be isolated to these individual events or life moments? Surely these are emotions that we should hold onto every day once we come to know God for ourselves and in our recognition of who we are in him?

The reality is so many of us may not live in that place of joy. Instead, we find ourselves unable to consider bursting or dancing because of the weight of life. Are we missing out on so much if we cannot find that joy in the leaf that blows off the tree when we do the school run or the routine flat white that is served from a barrister with a smile? Maybe the reality is that it should not be one or the other, but joy deep within that comes from knowing God in the big life moments, the small seemingly insignificant and whatever life may throw at us.

Looking back to Mary’s words, in The Message translation, she goes on to say, ‘God took one good look at me and look what happened- I’m the most fortunate woman on earth. What God has done for me will never be forgotten’.

Mary was right, what God did through Jesus has never been forgotten. However, it was not just through a baby for Mary, but a Saviour for us all.

Mary recognises here, that God has made a way. It is not only for her to burst and dance with joy but for all humanity to feel and know that deep love and joy. Each of us are invited to own Mary’s words for ourselves:

‘God took one good look at me and look what happened’.

God made a way for us to be free, saved, loved, known, accepted, forgiven, acknowledged, and valued. There was such power from Mary’s words then and there is still today.

The verses in Luke end with a statement:

‘The God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others’.

Mary knew the true power of God. Even though she was young and even though her being pregnant and unmarried, could make her an outcast in many people’s eyes, she still chose to burst and dance with joy. She knew, that in that moment, in this pregnancy, in her life and through her life, everything was about to change. And that fact was life changing and joy inducing!

This Advent time, I will carry the joyful words of Mary close.

I will remember her joy.

Like her, I will remember what God has done for me.

What God, through Jesus, has done for all humanity.

And even though these days we are living through, can at times feel overwhelming and challenging, like Mary, I will seize that fullness of life that the baby she carried and birthed, brings.

Odele Harding is the Communities Pastor at Central Church in Edinburgh. She is married to Andy and they have two vibrant and fun boys. Odele worked previously as a Probation Officer and is passionate about seeing people flourish to their full potential. She loves pick 'n' mix sweets. walking along a beach, coffee and has caught the fresh water swimming bug!

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