And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He 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 but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Luke 1:46-55 (NIV)
It must have been an incredible moment, a moment that both women carried with them through the years their sons were growing up and becoming the servants of God they were meant to be. One a prophet preparing the way for the Messiah; the other a rabbi who bled for the sins of the world. Both of them miracles.
John was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, parents well beyond the childbearing age – the Abraham and Sarah of their day. Zechariah was commanded by God to name his son John, but was made mute because he questioned God’s ability to give them a son. Jesus was the Son of God and Joseph and Mary – one by spirit, one by law and one by blood. Mary was blessed for unflinching obedience and acceptance.
When Mary and Elizabeth meet, John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb, signifying that he already recognized the one he would prepare the way for in an unprepared world. Elizabeth is moved by the spirit to prophesy, which in turn moves Mary to sing praise to her God. It is a holy moment, a sacred moment. Two holy children destined to change the world and two women chosen to love and care for them joined together by God’s Spirit.
Often the song of Mary is considered a mother’s song, and it is, but it is also a daughter’s song to her heavenly Father. A song of praise and thanksgiving for all that He had done and all that He would do. A song testifying God’s ability to give her everything she needs to do what she should. A song for Christmas, when we celebrate the day that God gave us everything we need to do all we should.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas day, it is easy to get frustrated with the un-Christmas-like things around us and around the world. However, the danger of focusing on the lack of Christ in Christmas in our culture is that we don’t focus enough on the Christ in Christmas. Think of Mary, a young woman in her circumstances travelling to stay with family, avoiding the shame she might endure. She carried the light of the world inside her, but knew no one would believe her. In the midst of all this she sings praise to her God; she remembers what she is about and who she is; a daughter of the King. Instead of fixating on all that could go wrong, or what was uncomfortable or unpleasant, she recounted what good a gracious God she served. She was preparing the way for the Messiah.
Maybe that is what we should really be about during the Christmas season – preparing the way. Like Mary and then John, we should be focused on preparing the way for Jesus to come into moments we share with friends, family, coworkers and even strangers. Let’s prepare the way in our hearts for Christ to have His way in His time. Prepare the way, Christmas is coming.