Advent IV :: Mary’s Magnificat

by Brian Walsh

Like everyone else, she received the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with joy, wonder … and fear.

Joy that the barren had conceived.
Joy that an heir would be born.
Joy that Elizabeth’s womb would bear fruit.

Wonder because of the memories this evoked.
Wonder in the memory of Sarah, Rebekah and Hannah.
Wonder about whether God was on the move, whether the promises were to be fulfilled.

Promises and wonder.
Fulfilled dreams.
All bound up with a newly conceived child.

Maybe that is where the fear came from.
A child born into oppression.
A child born into captivity.
A child born into violence.
A child born while Herod is on the throne.

And so it wasn’t surprising that she made haste to visit Elizabeth.
It wasn’t surprising that her own pregnancy,
mysteriously announced by an angel,
immaculately conceived without the aid of a man,
sent her running to Elizabeth.

Surely Elizabeth would understand.
Surely Elizabeth would find a way to put together
the joy, the wonder and the fear.

And when she walked into Elizabeth’s house,
she could see that baby jump in her kinswoman’s womb
from the other side of the room.
This was no little ‘kick.’
This was one leaping baby.

And Elizabeth’s cry wasn’t one of shock, or pain, or discomfort,
but a cry of joy:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to see me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Is this what Mary was looking for?
Did this explain the joy, the wonder, the fear of it all?
A leaping fetus?
The mother of the Lord?
A fulfillment of what was spoken?
The Son of the Most High?
The heir of David?
The one whose kingdom will have no end?
In this womb?
Elizabeth’s Lord, her child’s Lord, Mary’s Lord,
in this womb?

If it is all true, then surely this calls for a song.
Surely, it is praise time.
Surely, it is a time for magnificat!

And so she sings,
in solidarity with her foremothers, she sings,
in continuity with her deepest traditions, she sings,
in a hope and a joy that simply cannot be bound, she sings.

She sings in joy,
she sings to Elizabeth,
she sings to us,
she sings to God.

The mighty one,
the merciful one,
the holy one,
has lived up to his name!

He has looked upon his servant,
his maidservant, Mary,
he has looked upon his servant,
his covenant servant, Israel,
and he has shown favour to the lowliness
of such servants,
the lowliness of a pregnant teenage peasant girl,
the lowliness of an oppressed people subject to yet one more damn empire.

And the mighty one,
the merciful one,
the holy one,
has made choices.

He chooses for the weak against the powerful,
he chooses for the poor against the rich,
he chooses for the hungry against those who are overfed.

This is covenantal faithfulness,
this is the God who keeps promise,
this is the God of steadfast love,
this is the God of Abraham and our ancestors!

This is a God who sets people free from their captivity,
this is an exodus God of liberation,
this is a God of radical reversals,
this is a God who deconstructs the intellectual systems of the proud
who brings down the powerful from their positions of power,
who leaves the overly consumptive rich with nothing,
while lifting the lowly,
……and filling the hungry.

Who sings this song?
A pregnant peasant girl in Galilee.
Whose song is this?
The song of the lowly and the hungry.

Can we sing this song?
Can we who are amongst the economic elite of our world,
……can we who are in positions of power,
……can we who are well-fed,
……can we who are rich,
……can we sing this song?

Dare we sing this song?
Only if we are willing to embrace the reversals of this Kingdom,
only if we are willing to make the same choices as this God,
only if we are willing to stand with this pregnant teenager,
only if we are willing to be scattered in our pride,
……and gathered in humility,
only if we are willing to brought down from our thrones,
……and lifted up with the lowly,
only if we are willing to be sent away empty,
……and fed in our deepest hunger.

Babylon is falling,
and Mary is singing.
Babylon is falling,
and the promises are fulfilled.
Babylon is falling,
and the Kingdom is at hand.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

2 Responses to “Advent IV :: Mary’s Magnificat”

  1. Matt

    Lydia & I are recklessly singing with you…”remove in us oh Lord, all traces of ingratitude, hubris, and waste…birth in us new life and limitless courage to go where we would not elect to go, and to do what we would be otherwise terrified to do…truly the Kingdom is at hand…come Lord Jesus, come.”

    Give the girls a kiss for us, Merry Christmas


  2. Happy Christmas from Innovista Ireland « Innovista Ireland

    […] out Brian Walsh’s rewrite of Mary’s song here or the Transforming Centre’s inspiring advent blog […]


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