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Advent: Devotionals & Liturgies — Mary’s Song

December 23, 2019
|
preached by
Ryan James

This post is part of a series of devotionals & liturgies written to help us anticipate the birth of Christ during the Advent season.

Scripture

Luke 1:46–55

⁴⁶ And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
⁴⁷ and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
⁴⁸ for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
⁴⁹ for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
⁵⁰ And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
⁵¹ He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
⁵² he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
⁵³ he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
⁵⁴ He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
⁵⁵ as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Devotional

When Mary delivered The Magnificat, she had just traveled from Nazareth to Judah to visit her relative Elizabeth. It was a rugged 100-mile journey that would have taken her 3-4 days, yet when Mary arrived, her first recorded words were a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. 

Why a song? Because words were not enough.

When joined with rhythm and melody, words take on a new life. It’s something like the difference between seeing a loved one in a black-and-white photograph and watching them in a video—in living color. Music lends dimension and humanity to our words. Singing has the ability to make us feel.

We can imagine Mary making her way to Judah, replaying Gabriel’s words in her mind the entire way. God’s favor rested upon her, and she had been chosen to carry and give birth to Jesus: the long-awaited Messiah. 

And as she considered this news, her shock and wonder began to give way to adoration and delight.

Mary sang of God’s glory, his mercy, and his justice. She remembered his promises and rejoiced that those promises were coming to fruition through her womb! 

Mary’s song echoes Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2:1-10; both are sung by mothers rejoicing in God’s provision of a son. Hannah’s song hopes for a son greater than her own who would come to the world to reign as its King. Mary’s song announces his arrival.

But wait. Who was Mary to feel this joy? Let’s remember that in any other scenario, an unwed pregnant girl would have been thoroughly disgraced and shamed in Jewish society.

Yet, Mary was not filled with dread, but with wonder and awe. Her reality had been redefined by the good news of Christ’s arrival. Tidings of woe gave way to tidings of comfort and joy and she overflowed with worship. Spoken words were simply not enough to celebrate such an occasion.

Mary’s song should fill us with hope. God was bringing hope out of an otherwise impossible situation—using it for her good and his glory. This is our song too. 

As we hear Mary’s song, may our hearts fill with wonder. And as with Mary, may the announcement of Christ’s arrival well up within us, overflowing in songs of worship and praise.

Liturgy

We praise you, oh long-awaited Messiah! 
You are the song that all of creation sings, and today we join in. 

Lord, we repent of our hardness of heart. We confess our affections are ever too weak. 
Time after time we’ve beheld the Christ and not been moved. 
We’ve seen your glory and majesty, and yet, somehow, have had the audacity to feel very little. 
Our shallow worship tells a dangerous lie to the watching world about who you are. 

Worse yet: often what we worship isn’t you at all. 

Our mere existence is possible only because of your saving work on the cross. How incredible that we are even allowed to worship you! How marvelous that your greatness does not depend on our abilities to recognize it! 

Your glory and magnificence ought to cause us to tremble; today we pray that they do. And when words do not suffice, O Lord, give us a song. 
May our joy and adoration be impossible to contain. Let it fill us to the brim so that it bubbles up in songs of praise! 

Rescue us from our complacency, O Lord! We surrender ourselves that you might warm every last dark corner of our cold hearts. Revive us with your song. Replace our bitter and skeptical hearts with ones ready to bow down and soak up your splendor. 

We pray today: 
Grant us the perseverance to worship you when it isn’t easy.
Grant us the stamina to intertwine our worship with the daily humdrum.
Grant us the courage to worship you when people are looking. 
Grant us the self-awareness to realize when it isn’t you that we are worshiping. 

Sustain us, O Lord, as we prepare for the day we will join the heavenly choir, raising our voices in gladness with the Saints who have come before us.

Christmas Eve at Coram Deo

You are invited to join us on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 4, 5, or 6 pm for one of our candlelight services. Together, we will sing Christmas carols, hear the Christmas story proclaimed from God's Word, and, of course, light candles to remind each other of God's light shining into the darkness through the arrival of His son, Jesus Christ. Children are invited to join their parents for these family-friendly services and no child care will be provided. We hope to see you there!

Ryan leads Coram Deo's music and productions ministry and oversees all communications. He and his wife live in Bremerton with their three kids. He loves driving, podcasts, graphic design, and good whiskey.

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