Daily Update #187

Readings  1 Samuel 1:24-28.       Psalm 113.           Luke 1:46-56.

The first chapter of Luke’s gospel is incredibly dramatic. Here we read of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of a son who “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (v32). Gabriel went on to tell Mary that “the Lord God will give him (Jesus) the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end” (v32-33). Mary’s calm response reveals her humble commitment to God – “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said” (v38). Mary then leaves her home in Galilee to visit her older relative Elizabeth who lives 80 to 100 miles away in the hill country of Judea to the south (v39). Having been filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth, already pregnant with John the Baptist, recognises that Mary was to be the mother of her Lord (v41 -42). Then we come to today’s passage, which is one of the most famous and best loved in the New Testament. It is Mary’s beautiful song of praise to God “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name” (v49).Mary’s song is known as ‘The Magnificat’ owing to the Latin translation of its first few words (in the Vulgate Bible) – “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour..” (v46-47). Mary clearly knew the Old Testament Scriptures very well as she refers to them 12 times in her song, which itself resembles the praise psalms. It has also been likened to Hannah’s song of praise and thanksgiving as she dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Like Mary’s response to her favoured status, Hannah’s deep joy was in her holy Lord rather than simply in her child. Do read these amazing songs of praise now! They are Holy Spirit inspired expressions of trust and joy in the God whom they were so willing to serve. Unsurprisingly, Mary’s song is, of course, one of the most popular and most sung of all. It teaches us that:*  we should respond in gratitude to the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus.*  God is worthy of our praise for His love, mercy and grace towards humble sinners.*  throughout history God has intervened on behalf of the poor and weak.*  He is a faithful God who, as He showed Abraham, keeps all his promises.Mary knows that it is not always ‘the great and the good’ who are favoured by God. The poor and humble who have little to offer but their trust and obedience are often  those He chooses to bless and to fulfil His purposes. Mary clearly understood that we can’t earn our salvation or God’s blessings. They are a matter of His grace and compassion for those who humbly trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. We can be grateful to Mary and Joseph each Christmas for their humility and obedience to God. We can also be thankful to Mary for her lovely and spontaneous insights into the holy character of God. She certainly shows us in her song what Holy Spirit inspired praise can be like. However, the best things about Mary for me is that she always gives glory to God rather than to herself. May it be true of each one of us this Christmas that, like Mary, “my soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”Today’s Prayer:  Dear Lord, we thank you today for all that we can learn from Mary and her great song of praise. This Christmas may we give you all the praise and love which you deserve. We thank you so much for sending your son Jesus to be our Saviour. We acknowledge that our salvation from sin was bought at the great price of His death on the cross. Father, may our lives show you, and others, just how grateful we are for all that you are and all that you have done for us through Jesus. Amen.