Summary: Christmas sermon on Mary’s song

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

Let’s join Mary today in rejoicing at the coming of Christ our Saviour. There’s a certain timelessness in the words of Mary’s song. The coming of Christ affects all times and places in a similar way. So let’s spend some time meditating on the words of Mary as we think about the impact on us and our time of Jesus coming. Let’s think about what God has done by this act of sending his own Son to live among us as one of us.

What Mary, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognises most clearly, is that the coming of Jesus Christ constitutes a work of total renewal. By it the world is turned upside down. The order of things is reversed, from the individual level right up to the level of world government.

She says: "8for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed." God has taken Mary’s humble state and raised her up, blessed her so that all generations will recognise her new status in God’s eyes. Here we see at the micro level what God has done through the gospel for all people. James says: "Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?" (James 2:5 NRSV). The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus has come to call all people rich and poor to follow him; that the humble are lifted up, the poor made rich, the unrighteous made righteous, the insignificant raised to the status of God’s sons and daughters. And so Mary continues, "50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation."

To whom does God’s mercy extend? Is to those who obey his commands? Is it to those who are the spiritual ones, the religious ones, the ones who know all the spiritual techniques? Is it to those who belong to his chosen people? No. Again here’s the amazing thing about the gospel. Here’s the order of things being turned upside down. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. God’s mercy is freely poured out on all who fear him; on all who recognise him for who he is, who put their faith in him; on all who trust him to do what he promises: to forgive their sins when they turn to him in repentance; to give them eternal life. And this gift of forgiveness and eternal life, this blessing and mercy extends to all people in every generation. As God promised through the prophet Isaiah, Jesus has come as "a light to the nations that [his] salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Is 42:6; 49:6).

And how has he brought about this renewal of the world? By the work of his mighty arm. It’s as though God has stretched forth his arm and swept this world’s order aside. And look at the mighty deeds that he’s done by the strength of his arm.

He’s scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. These are those people who are legends in their own minds. Those who think they have life sown up. Who are self content. Who feel like they’ve made it. These are those who tell themselves that they’ve lived a good enough life. That God must be satisfied with them, as though God were an auditor who jotted up a balance sheet to work out whether we were in the black or the red at the end of our lives. But we discover that life isn’t that simple. The writer of Ecclesiastes, possibly King Solomon, wrote this: (Eccl 2:4-11 NRSV) "I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; 5I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines. 9So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. 10Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." "He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts" In the end all our efforts come to nought. In the end it’s all vanity and a chasing after wind. What God desires isn’t that we live more holy lives than someone else. It doesn’t help us that we’re more educated, more cultured, even more biblically literate than someone else. What God cares about is that we fear him. That we have faith in him.

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