Day 23

The Magnificat

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan


Luke 1:39-56, Psalm 107:1-9, Luke 6:20-22

What moves you to awe? What awakens wonder in you? What song flows out of you when you encounter glory? And when does this tend to happen for you? For me, it’s often when I discover that God has been at work in ways I could not see—when I see the pieces of a puzzle come together, and I gain some clarity on something I couldn’t make heads or tails of before.

I can be dim. We all can. We celebrate holidays because we’re so prone to forget important moments. We see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). But God is doing greater things than we understand (Ephesians 3:20). Always.

In today’s passage, Elizabeth’s unborn child seems to know God is doing something extraordinary. But we on the outside of the womb are so prone to forget that we are living, even now, in the middle of an unfolding story. The baby leaps in Elizabeth’s womb because God is with them. And as sure as He was with them, He is with us. In this sense, nothing has changed. In our small story, sometimes the only presence we are really aware of is that thing we fear, the catastrophe we’re trying to prevent, the reputation we’re trying to preserve.

But even when we can’t see what God is doing, He is working. In today’s passage, people begin to get a glimpse of this. When Mary enters Elizabeth’s house, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. Then Elizabeth sings a song, saying God has been good to let her have such proximity to her Lord.

Then, Mary adds a song of her own. Why? Her eyes are open. She sees her barren, elderly cousin now pregnant. She sees the shock on Elizabeth’s face as John leaps inside her. She sees that the Lord is on the move. And what comes from her? A song.

We call it “Mary’s Song” or the Magnificat (Latin for “magnify”). What’s happening with this song of praise? (Luke 1:46–55). Mary is continuing the song the angels started on the hill outside Bethlehem when they sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:14). Mary is not inventing the importance of the moment. She’s participating with the divine through worship. Worship is what comes from her sense of wonder, and it is the perfect response.

What captures the wonder in you? Do you know? Ask yourself: What is the song in your heart? What flows effortlessly from you? Shame? Fear? Worry? Anger? Self-righteousness? The need for another person’s approval? To whom do you sing?

You have a magnificat—a song of response to the wonder you see. You know all the words, all the movements. The question is, how big is the world your magnificat magnifies? God is still at work. Do not sing a small song. Continue the one the angels started.

Written by Russ Ramsey

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One thought on "The Magnificat"

  1. Mike says:

    This is really good. Very encouraging. Thank you.

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