Summary: To what are you committed? Why are you committed? On what basis do you make your commitments? We can learn from Mary.
“Guidelines for Christmas: Make A Commitment”
To what are you committed? Why are you committed? On what basis do you make your commitments? Today’s passage about Mary forces us to consider these questions about commitment. What led her to her commitment? We can gain some important insights from her song.
The first thing we discover is that Mary had AN ATTITUDE OF REVERENT MAGNIFICATION. (46-47) “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”” Mary said that her soul glorifies, and her spirit rejoices in, God. The word glorify can be translated, as it often is, as ‘magnifies.’ “My soul magnifies the Lord…” To magnify is to make something larger – to increase its size. Many of us wear glasses to magnify the words we read – to make the print larger and clearer. Mary’s attitude is that it is the purpose of her life to magnify her Lord – TO MAKE GOD LARGER AND BIGGER AND CLEARER FOR ALL TO SEE.
What a great moment for Mary. In this midst of this amazing, confusing, unbelievable news she affirms the purpose of her life. As Kribyjon Caldwell said, "There are two great moments in a person's life: the moment you were born and the moment you realize why you were born." (1) This was Mary’s moment of realization. No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the call or assignment of God, Mary would magnify her Lord.
MAGNIFICATION OF OUR LORD IS OUR PURPOSE as well. Psalm 66:2 – “Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!” Paul, in Ephesians 1:11-12, wrote “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Praising and magnifying our Lord is not an option. God is richly deserving of our praise and we have an obligation to praise Him. In praising God we make Him larger for all to see Him more clearly.
And the beauty of magnification, the power of praise, is that it reminds us IT’S ALL ABOUT OUR LORD. When we are busy praising our Lord we are not thinking about ourselves. I appreciate how Bruce and Katherine Epperly put it in “Tending to the Holy”: “Praise centers and grounds us in divine love that brings worlds into being, guides the evolution of galaxies and people, and breathes new life through all creation in every situation. Authentic praise is not a matter of stroking the divine ego or perpetuating hierarchical understandings of the divine-human relationship, but the recognition that God is the lively, intimate, and creative reality from which each moment of life emerges…Praise transforms pastors and congregations alike by turning our vision from the crisis of the present moment to the ever-present goodness of God....While praise does not deny the realities of suffering and pain, it reminds us that divine love and creativity will have the final word in our lives and in the world.” (2) It’s all about Him.
Perhaps you feel like your life is nothing unusual, or too unusual, to magnify Jesus Christ. Remember – YOU AREN’T THE MESSAGE, YOU ARE THE MESSENGER. Think about it. Abraham (and Sarah & Elizabeth) were too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Joseph was abused, Moses wasn’t willing, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Naomi was a widow, Job went bankrupt, Mary was a virgin, Peter denied Christ (3 times!), the Disciples fell asleep while praying, Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer, and Lazarus was dead! And they all magnified God. As the messenger you can magnify Jesus through your praise. It’s all about Jesus! Like Mary, let us develop an attitude of reverent magnification.
It’s important to understand, however, that Mary’s attitude was possible because it had A BASIS OF REVOLUTIONARY LOVE. “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation”. God’s mercy – His gracious faithful love – is never ending. IT CONTINUES FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION. It goes on and on and on. God reminded the Israelites (Dt. 5:10) that He would show His love to a thousand generations. The Psalmist widened it when he wrote (103:17) that God’s love was from everlasting to everlasting.
MARY NOW UNDERSTOOD THIS EVERLASTING LOVE PERSONALLY. First of all, she was mindful of her lowliness, her station and status in life. (48-49) “…for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” Yet God chose her, a virgin, to be the mother of His Son. “…for the Mighty One has done great things for me…” Mary refers to God as her Savior (47), the One who reached down to her in her lowliness and gave her great honor. She knew she was not worthy; she now also knew that God’s grace and favor are pure gifts.