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Be Happy in the Mercy of God!

December 6, 2023


Leadership Notes


     There is a prophetic element to Luke’s birth narrative. It’s quite subversive:


Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.    

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me,    

and holy is his name.

And 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 mighty from their thrones    

and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,    

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,    

in remembrance of his mercy,

as he spoke to our fathers,   

to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”


     Here, Mary foreshadows many themes that will be present in Jesus’ ministry. God is faithful. It is also a condemnation of the rich and powerful. There is the humbling nature of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.


     I love how John Piper captures it:


“It is clear from Mary's words (and from the whole Bible) that God

is not partial to the rich, the powerful, or the proud. How could

God be partial to the things which in our world are, more often

than not, substitutes for God rather than pointers to God? Vast

numbers of people have perished because they were enamored by

pride, power, and wealth. And probably Theophilus, as a ranking

Roman official, has all three. So Mary's Magnificat is not just

recorded out of pure antiquarian interest. There is a word of

warning and of salvation here. Theophilus, look at what God is

really like. He is not the least impressed by any of your pride,

power, or opulence. He has mercy on those who fear him, who

humble themselves and turn from the ego boosting accumulation

of wealth to the lowliness of self-denial for the sake of others.

This is the way God is, Theophilus. This is how his holiness

expresses itself. Does this not commend itself as true, that the

great and holy God should magnify his greatness by blessing the

lowly who admire his greatness and by abasing the haughty who

resent his greatness?”


     It’s instructive to view contemporary life and events through the lens of Mary’s Magnificat. What of the lifestyles of the rich and famous? What about our so-called ruling elites, who make laws and protocols “for thee but not for me?” We all remember what happened during the Covid years, when time-after-time certain people were exempt from that which oppressed others. Mary’s Magnificat speaks to those places and situations.


     Mary’s prophetic words also speak to peace and justice issues. I have not been surprised by the lack of prophetic voice coming from liberal women’s organizations on what happened on October 7 in Israel. I couldn’t agree more with Hilary Clinton when she recently said:


“Organizations, governments, and individuals who are committed

to a better future for women and girls have a responsibility to

condemn all violence against women. It is outrageous just that

some who claim to stand for justice are closing their eyes and

their hearts to the victims of Hamas.”


Mary’s Magnificat transcends party, culture, or ethnicity. It is God’s call to serve the needs of each other in the pursuit of peace and justice.


     I close with this final observation from Piper:


“It is good news to learn that we magnify God by rejoicing in him.

It's good news because we are commanded to glorify or magnify

God (1 Corinthians 10:33Romans 1:20f.), and this command

could be a terrible burden if we weren't told that the only way to

fulfill it is to relax and be happy in the mercy of God. That is what

magnifies God most.”


     We thank God for His powerful, far-reaching message to us through Mary’s Magnificat.


     And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:


“I am told that Christians do not love each other. I am very sorry

if that be true, but I rather doubt it, for I suspect that those who

do not love each other are not Christians.”


With Much Love and Affection,


                    Richard

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