Scripture reading for today:

Micah 5:2-5a, Psalm 80:1-7, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55

Mary’s Freedom Song

Growing up the church Christmas pageant was always a highlight of the Christmas season. There was the fluttering of paper angel wings, tinsel from halos, bathrobes and towels for the shepherds, but the highlight of the nativity scene was always the Mary, Joseph and Christ child silhouette. With seeming universality, none of the boys wanted to be Joseph and most of the girls wanted to be Mary. Mary was always portrayed as a winsome, fragile girl who wore blue, white and had a pillow tied around her waist.

While as children we coveted the role of Mary because of her demure nature, centre stage positioning and the chance to hold a live baby, my hope is that young girls will long to play Mary in Christmas pageants to come for altogether different reasons. Mary is so much more than the picture of fragile pregnancy, quiet motherhood or girlish innocence. My hope is that we will exchange our view of Mary for that of a young woman chosen to both bear and give birth to freedom.

When Mary is chosen to give birth to a son, she is immediately informed that this child will be the Son of God and that his Kingdom will never end. Some question Mary’s knowledge and understanding of what it is that God invited her to participate in. They wonder if she truly knew that her son would be the long-awaited Messiah, but those who wonder about her theological and spiritual knowing in the moment of angels and wild announcements have most likely skipped over the reading of the joy-filled Magnificat. The Magnificat, often titled, Mary’s Song which she sings out in the presence of her cousin Elizabeth is both poetic and prophetic.  It is within this song that she announces the attributes of God, which are simultaneously the attributes of her Son, the Messiah. Mary instinctively declares that the child she carries within her has a Kingdom message, where the powerful are those we easily overlook, the humble, the hungry, the poor and those in need of mercy. She sings out this revolutionary message long before she holds the messenger in her arms.

Mary, filled by the Spirit, knows that she is part of a God-directed revolution, where humanity does not seek to draw near to God, but where God seeks to draw near to humanity. As we encounter the words of her song, apart from their melody, it becomes clear that Mary is a model of faith. She chooses to believe that God has not forgotten her or her people despite centuries of silence.  She chooses to believe that God will break through the darkness as a result of her willingness to be obedient. She chooses to believe that God has taken notice of her, “a lowly servant girl.”

Mary, filled by the Spirit, knows that she is part of a God-directed revolution Click To Tweet

As we read through the gospels it becomes clear that along the way, Mary will need to be reminded that Jesus is for the world and not just for her alone.  She will need to resist the urge of motherhood to protect, defend and shield him from his mission and his message. In this moment, however, as she sings her Spirit laced song, she is simultaneously humbled and delighted that her life is tangled up in the birthing of freedom.

Freedom from independence and pride.
Freedom from oppression and oppressors.
Freedom from sin and freedom from darkness.

As she sings, she announces that her son’s arrival is not to be about power that comes from a place of strength, but power from humility. His Kingdom will not take advantage of the poor but will disenfranchise the rich. His message will not be for those who are the self-proclaimed righteous ones, but for those who acknowledge their need for mercy. The essence being that there is freedom enough for us all.

Mary might say, news like that deserves a song… “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

Thank you for reading the New Leaf Advent Reader, a collection of reflections from writers across Canada. If you are enjoying the reader, sign up to receive the readings in your inbox each day here: SIGN UP And please share this reflection with your friends and family who might also enjoy it.

photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia