Summary: What must you combine to find joy this Christmas season? Mary reveals her recipe for joy in the Magnificat.


What is the recipe for the perfect Christmas cookie? A few weeks ago many of our members baked cookies at home, and we gathered those cookies onto plates and delivered them to area businesses – just a way of sending a Christmas greeting to the people God has placed in our neighborhood. There were many different varieties of cookies – all different shapes and sizes. Which recipe was the best? Which cookie was the best? I guess it depends on what kind you like.

What is the recipe for Christmas joy? You hear a lot about joy this time of the year – you are under a lot of pressure to feel joy this time of the year. What is the recipe for Christmas joy? There are many recipes – many believe that if you combine a large number of family and friends with the right gifts and the right meal – if you mix those things together, you will get Christmas joy. But what if you aren’t surrounded by large numbers of family and friends? What if the economy has been hard on you, and you aren’t able to fill your house with gifts? Does that mean that you are unable to experience Christmas joy?

Today, the virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, shares with you her recipe for Christmas joy. Mary wasn’t surrounded by a large number of family and friends that first Christmas. She didn’t receive an MP3 player, and give Joseph a DVD player. She didn’t have large piles of food sitting around her nicely decorated house. And yet, Mary was filled with joy – it came from something deeper – something that goes beyond all the physical trappings of Christmas.

Today we’re going to look at Mary’s recipe for Christmas joy. It is my prayer that you will make use of this recipe in the days ahead, and throughout your entire life, as you seek to be someone who has joy in your life.

We find Mary’s recipe for joy in a song she sang, a song many people today call the “Magnificat.” Here’s the setting – Mary had just received word from the angel Gabriel that she, an unmarried girl, probably in her teens, would become pregnant and be the mother of the Messiah. She also learned that one of her older relatives, a woman named Elizabeth, was already six months pregnant. These were pretty amazing things for her to hear – so immediately she went to visit her relative Elizabeth.

Sure enough, she was six months pregnant. And the moment Mary greeted Elizabeth, we are told in verse 41 of our text that the unborn infant “leaped in her womb.” We are told that the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth with words, as we see in verse 42: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear. But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The Holy Spirit had revealed to Elizabeth that Mary would be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth told Mary that her unborn child had leapt for joy, and that Mary was blessed for believing that she would be the mother of the Christ.

At this point, the Holy Spirit fills Mary with a song. It is called the “Magnificat” because of verse 46, where Mary says, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” The Latin translation actually says, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” and there you get the word “magnificat.” Verse 47: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Her spirit was filled with joy. Let’s find her recipe.

A key idea is found in verse 48: “For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” HUMILITY is a major theme in Mary’s song. Mary saw herself as a humble servant of God. HUMILITY. Perhaps humility is best summed up with three words: “I’m not worthy.” That’s humility – to have an “I’m not worthy” – attitude. What Mary was saying here is, “I’m not worthy to be the mother of the Christ. I’m a humble Jewish peasant girl from a small town. I’m not worthy.” Notice how Mary calls God her “Savior” in verse 47. She called God her “Savior” because she knew that she was a sinner – she needed God’s saving grace. And not only was she going to receive God’s grace – she had even been given the privilege of being the mother of the Christ. “I’m not worthy” – that’s humility.

Later in the song, Mary talks about humility when she says in verse 51: God “has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones.” God humbles those who are proud. Look at the last half of verse 52: “But has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things.” God blesses those who are humble. But look at the last half of verse 53: “But has sent the rich away empty.”

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