It’s called Mary’s Song.
Elizabeth had just discovered that her young cousin was bearing the Christ child. “God has blessed you among all women, and he has blessed the child you carry” (Luke 1:42, CEB). What a gracious affirmation to a girl pregnant out of wedlock. Where others might have uncovered her shame, with her words, Elizabeth clothed Mary with honor.
Something in Elizabeth’s warm embrace made the dam break. Mary burst out in song:
With all my heart I glorify the Lord! (1:46, CEB)
In these 10 verses (Matthew 1:46-55), Mary extols the God who:
- cares about those in humble circumstances (v. 48)
- is mighty and strong (v. 49, 51)
- is holy (v. 49)
- is merciful across time (v. 50)
- deposes the arrogant and powerful and lifts up the lowly (v. 51, 52)
- feeds the hungry but sends the rich away with nothing (v. 53)
In vv. 54-55, her song comes to a climax. Among the poorest of an oppressed people, under the boot of the Roman conquerors, she praises the God who comes to the rescue!
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever (CEB).
Rescue is a word we use less often these days, yet it’s a word with a rich heritage. As a boy, I remember singing the hymn: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.” In large cities in the U.S., churches sponsored “rescue missions” that ministered to men suffering from alcoholism, giving them a square meal and place to sleep in exchange for listening to a salvation sermon. (One such mission still operates in Kansas City, Missouri, ministering to men and women). The Nazarene church building in Pilot Point, Texas includes story boards of the home for unwed mothers run on the property in the early 1900s.
With such a heritage, and in-light of our God who comes to the rescue, what shall we do?
As God’s people, our call is to be like God: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16, NIV). Mary’s Song fleshes out what holiness looks like. The one whose name is holy (Luke 1:49) can never be conceptualized apart from the God who acts in history. And how does God act toward people? God scatters the arrogant (v. 51), dethrones the powerful (v. 52) and leaves the rich to their own devices (v. 53). On the other hand, he empowers the lowly (vv. 48, 52) and provides for the hungry (v. 51). If this is what God coming to the rescue looks like, then it’s fair to ask ourselves:
What are we doing as a church that looks like that?
The Gospel has no political party. Our interest is always the Kingdom of God, set in motion when God incarnate came to the rescue in a manger in Bethlehem. This Christmas and always, I want to be part of the Rescue Mission. Let’s join our voices and sing Mary’s Song!
Theonlysilentbob at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons