Thursday, December 22

An excerpt from Mary, the Magnificat, and an Unsentimental Advent by Rachel Held Evans

Read Luke 1:46-55 followed by this reflection.

It’s an unconventional birth announcement. Defiant. Prophetic. Unsentimental.

We like to paint Mary in the softer hues—her robes clean, hair combed and covered, body poised in prayerful surrender—but this young woman was a fierce one, full of strength and fury. When she accepts the dangerous charge before her, (every birth was risky in those days, this one especially so), rather than reciting a maternal blessing, Mary offers a prophecy.

With the Magnificat, Mary not only announces a birth, she announces the inauguration of a new kingdom, one that stands in stark contrast to every other kingdom—past, present, and future—that relies on violence and exploitation to achieve “greatness.” With the Magnificat, Mary declares that God has indeed chosen sides.

And it’s not with the powerful, but the humble.

It’s not with the rich, but with the poor.

It’s not with the occupying force, but with people on the margins.  

It’s not with narcissistic kings, but with an un-wed, un-believed teenage girl entrusted with the holy task of birthing, nursing, and nurturing God.

This is the stunning claim of the incarnation: God has made a home among the very people the world casts aside. And in her defiant prayer, Mary—a dark-skinned woman, a refugee, a religious minority in an occupied land—names this reality.  “God is with us. And if God is with us, who can stand against us?”