The Magnificat: Scripture and questions for Dec. 23

Luke 1:39-56
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Would we recognize Mary, the mother of Jesus, if we saw her today? Would she resemble the meek and mild young woman we have come to know through traditional art? What did it mean for her life to be the mother of Jesus, and what kind of woman raised such a courageous prophet?

I suspect the Mary of tradition bears little resemblance to the woman of history. What do you think?

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Sartainsartain_jeffrey-ml-forweb
Executive Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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2 Responses to The Magnificat: Scripture and questions for Dec. 23

  1. silver price says:

    We do not know how cold, or perhaps even snowy, it was that December day in Galilee when the young woman we know as Mary was surprised by the angel Gabriel. [2] We do know that Mary would have been in her early teenage years , most likely twelve to fourteen years old. We can tell her age because she was engaged, but not yet married, to a man named Joseph, and yet was physically mature enough to both have and rear God’s Son, something she did for at least a couple of years without much family support. While twelve to fourteen may seem very young to us, it was common in biblical times for women to be married at that age, and much older than fourteen would have been uncharacteristically old for marriage in her culture. We can better understand the great courage and faith Mary had when we realize that she was not a middle-aged and experienced woman of the world, but rather a young woman of faith who accepted the call to be the mother of the Christ.

  2. Alan D. Hughes says:

    Was Jesus A One Off?
    Let’s start with Jesus. Was he one of a kind? If so, what is the point of continuing to believe in a creedal story that only happened once and will never happen again?
    So let’s leave tradition (myth) behind and go to history. But again, what is the point? Is there something in this story that we can use today?
    For starters, let’s not forget that Jesus also had an earthly father. Of course, the Christian Bible (the New Testament) goes way over the top when it comes to Jesus’ heavenly father. For sake of discussion, his earthly father may well have been named Joseph.
    What kind of guy stays with a woman who gets pregnant – by another man – before they get married?
    I was at Plymouth a few years ago for the afternoon Christmas service. It was the service that included the children. The manger scene was the focal point of the service. Each child had been given a figure from the scene. When it came time for one of the children to present the figure of Joseph, unfortunately, the figure was missing.
    More unfortunately, at least for me, was the female leader of the service comment that “oh well, I guess Joseph is just a deadbeat father.”
    Oops. So much, for a liberal progressive experience.
    Of course, I can be accused of not having a sense of humor. But hey, words matter.
    But anyway, along comes this young female that gets pregnant before she gets married. This really isn’t such an unusual event in America today.
    Who is going to marry our daughters? And so, more and more single mothers are raising the next generation. The Josephs of our world are missing in action; men who manifest forgiveness, compassion and love.
    Joseph didn’t just talk the talk; he walked the walk. This is arguably the first example of Christian charity in the New Testament and Joseph wasn’t even a Christian.
    I don’t think that Jesus was a one off. But where is the next Jesus to be found?
    If you understand how the Messiah is defined in the Hebrew Bible, it is pretty clear that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah. He didn’t get the job done and he is not coming back. You don’t get do overs in the earthly kingdom.
    So, it is up to us to turn the earthly kingdom into the heavenly kingdom. We still have our chance and Jesus’ example of Love. We can be the Messiah. Who said that the Messiah has to be singular?
    Mary is out there right now waiting for the next Joseph to take her in and love her and help her raise her children. It might even be one of our daughters or granddaughters.
    But where are these Josephs to be found? They might even be Josephine’s.
    Are we up to the task? This is a singular task that can be done in community. It is clear to me that Congregationalism is a direct descendant of Judaism (Jesus’ religion); the original covenantal religion. Yes, it is deeds not creeds.
    Our Jewish brothers’ and sisters’ covenant was/is with God. And how has that been working out lately? It is time that all human beings wake up, we join together, and we become the Messiah.
    Our days are waning. Please remember, there are no do overs in the earthly kingdom.
    It really is now or never; at least, for us and our children and our grandchildren.
    Happy Holidays.

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