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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 1:39–55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “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 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.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (NRSV)

So here’s Mary, feeling all happy and proud and grateful and blessed. I imagine that she’s probably glowing.

And good for her. Every expectant mother should have the space to be happy about the baby and proud and all that. This is not the time to think about the hard and painful things that this baby is going to bring. Nope. Save that for the next chapter, after the baby’s born. Save it for the temple and let Simeon rain on the parade.

“ . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” “Thank you . . . wait, what?”

The Magnificat is a lovely passage. I can’t read it, though, without hearing the warning in it: God brings down the powerful, lifts up the lowly. He feeds the hungry and sends the rich away empty. I mean, it’s easy to praise when you feel full and blessed and rich and on top of things. But the wheel turns, you know, and what do you sing about when you’re on the run, fleeing to Egypt?

But, as the song says, that’s living in the future, and none of this has happened yet. And Mary’s glowing. Thank goodness she is. Because joy is like water, and we all need it to get through the desert that life can be. When we put joy out into the world, it’s like we’re giving it to people to hold for us, because horrible things happen in the world, and the day will come when we feel fresh out of joy and in need of blessing, and we’re going to need to have it come back to us. If we hoard our joy in fear of the future, the world becomes a cold and lonely place.

So be joyful, and thankful. Share the blessings you have. That way, joy and gratitude and blessing will be in the world when it’s your turn to need them.

Lord, remind us that joy is not to be kept but shared, to keep blessing and gratitude alive in the world, so that we may find it when we need it. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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