Mary’s wonder

Mary’s wonder

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:46–48)

Christmas is a musical. I don’t know if you have ever noticed that before, but it’s true. Throughout the Christmas story, people start bursting out in song. From old Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist to the choir of angels singing God’s praises to bemused shepherds. Christmas is full of music and singing.

Here we have Mary’s song. Although it reads, “And Mary said…” in Luke 1 verse 46, it’s written as lyrics, and throughout the years has been set to music by composers such as Bach, Vivaldi and Rachmaninoff. We don’t know the music that Mary used to sing her song for the first time, but it’s clear that what flows from her lips is a Spirit-inspired song of praise.

And this is her song: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” Her whole life – her soul – glorifies the Lord. Or, in the more traditional words, she magnifies the Lord. That is, her praises zoom in on the majesty and magnificence of God, showing him to be as wonderful as he truly is.

Why does Mary involve herself in this magnifying ministry? What is it that has captured her so much that she can do nothing else other than burst into song? The occasion, of course, is God’s promise that she will be the mother of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. For Mary, this means that God is mindful.

God is mindful because he has taken notice. He has seen and remembered. Mary’s song ends with the triumphant declaration that God has remembered his promise to Abraham and sent Jesus to bring mercy and grace. God does not forget about his people, he remembers them, is mindful of them, and sends salvation in the form of a baby in a manger.

Mary rejoices that God keeps his promise. She rejoices that God is mindful of his people. But she also rejoices that God is mindful of her. “He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” she sings.

Mary is one of the most faithful and remarkable people in the Bible story. But as we are introduced to her, the most remarkable thing about her is just how unremarkable she is! She is not someone of great power, or wealth, or prestige. She is not living in a palace in Jerusalem but a normal home in Nazareth. When she gives birth it’s not in a clean and comfortable room, but in the only place available, a lowly cattle shed.

Mary spills over in praise not only because God remembers his promises, but because he remembers those who are often forgotten. He is mindful of those who are overlooked, undervalued and often unseen.

Perhaps that is the way you feel this Christmas? In the bustle and busyness of the season it is quite possible to feel lost and lonely, isolated and unseen.

If you feel unnoticed and alone, listen in to Mary’s song. God sees those who are unseen. He is mindful of you, even if nobody else seems to be. When we go overlooked and unnoticed we can know that God notices us, so much so that he sent his Son into the world for us. When we feel that nobody pays attention, let us listen in to Mary’s song and perhaps know the Spirit’s power to join in the song with her.