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Bearing the Word

Preachers carry on a tradition Mary exemplified.

With an aching heart, I set aside the email and got to work on my upcoming sermon. Exclusion or not, Sunday was still coming and the people of God awaited a word from the Lord to nourish and sustain their souls through the fast-food diet of the secularized “holiday season.” As I flipped open my notebook to confirm the text for the week, my breath caught in my throat. It was the Magnificat.

You know the story. A young mom-to-be who makes a long journey to visit her relative, trying to make sense of what is happening to her. She is alone, her betrothed not yet certain he can believe her seemingly unbelievable story. She is unseen, small, in a vulnerable position both physically and socially, and looked upon with disdain by many as her belly begins to burgeon.

And yet—thanks be to God that there is always an “and yet”—there is a word from Elizabeth, and prophetic speech that pours forth: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42–43).

And Mary, as she bears the embodied Word of God in her womb, brings forth the Word from her lips, declaring the gospel, the saving action of God.

“My soul glorifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and to his descendants forever,

just as he promised our ancestors” (Luke 1:46–55).

What a precious moment, as heaven and earth kissed. The realm of heaven intersected with the realm of earth, and our eyes are blinded for a moment by the bright light of the kingdom shining forth through Mary’s pronouncement.

The Right-Side-Up Kingdom

As the light fades and we once again see a small young girl standing before her relative, we recognize that Mary’s circumstances have not changed. And yet, everything has changed. Mary is given eyes to see past the veil of this shadow reality to the reality of Heaven come down, through to the realm in which God reigns, the kingdom of God.

December05, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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