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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, December 9, 2018

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)

Just before this passage, Mary said yes to the angel Gabriel.

It’s incredible enough that she has. For a moment, though, we don’t know how she feels.

But then she goes to visit Elizabeth and breaks forth in song—a song of praise that promises upheaval and the kingdom of God on earth. No meek young woman, Mary!

There is a hymn that takes this passage as its base, Canticle of the Turning, and there’s a line in there that catches me every time: “Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me.”

We never know when a small action or word may have big impact or who will unexpectedly impact us, or us, them. We need never discount ourselves; we may never discount the impact we might have on another person.

And if we want to get serious about changing the world, we need to look where we have a gap to move into, no matter how small, and then . . . push.

Just as Mary put her body on the line when she said yes, so do we in these moments. Maybe it's about placing our bodies out there in the world, in protest or defense, but even when we don't actually move, we bring our bodies into it. When our chests get tight and our throats close or we feel the need to move just to release the tension gathering up in us, our body is telling us how we feel, how we know we are risking something—and therefore about what is important to us. Can we stop and recognize what our body is saying and then move into what we know—or sometimes just feel—is true?

Once upon a time, a teenage girl said yes with her whole self to something unknown and scary and holy and right and good. And the world changed.

Holy Spirit, may I always be open to discerning your movement, in me and in the world, and may I have the strength to follow. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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