Magnificat — Glory to God


Five prayers for advent — Part 2

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 9th December 2019


Sunday again, and a different one to the usual one. Firstly, I was playing in the worship band again this week, but that is not unusual. Secondly, I had been kept awake with the weather, gale-force winds and rain, but again that is not unusual, I have difficulty in regulating a regular sleeping pattern which is not unusual in autistic people. The real difference was our 3½-year-old granddaughter who was staying with us over the weekend.

So off I went to get to the early, traditional service to allow me to concentrate on and make notes of the sermon without being distracted from the music in the later service. When I got there the sermon was starting but no sound was on and people has moved to the front rows of seats. The reason was simple, everything had been stripped down for a concert or carol service the previous night, and microphones had been plugged into the wrong sockets. So what follows is based on notes made from the beginning and end of the first sermon and the middle of the second. Things may not be in the same order as what was preached.

The sermon was based on Luke 1:39–56, Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. It started with recollections written about the celebrations at the end of World War II, streets thronging with people celebrating their deliverance from war.

Mary’s song, the Magnificat means to glorify. God is going to restore and make everything new.

Mary was brought up in a community waiting for the Messiah, waiting for deliverance.

Advent is more than wrapping presents and stocking up on mince pies. It is about longing. Longing for justice and love to be established. God will come again. These are the end times.

Mary said:

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
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.

Elizabeth blesses Mary. Mary’s response is in words that are a joyful, longing for God. Mary’s life was going to be hard. It looked on the surface like God had ruined her life and any prospects. Her fiancé  was likely to reject her and it was probable that she would have to sell her body in order to provide for herself and her child who was God’s son. Mary knew that God had not chosen her because she was special but because he was Gracious.

Humility comes from how holy God is. The price was high but Mary trusted God.

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 for ever,
just as he promised our ancestors.

God will bring justice and mercy. Mary is so sure that God will lift the humble, fill the hungry and remember the merciful that she speaks about them as if they have already happened. They are all there in the child that she is carrying.

There is hope in our lives. God has broken in and that means everything. When we open our minds to God at home, at work. It makes a difference in everything.

How can we join the ranks of Mary and others? Where can we bring hope? We must endeavour to respond to God like Mary. We must ask God to break into our lives.

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