One of our members recently posted a note on Facebook saying that Santa was going to have to come in the front door this year because repairs were being made to their chimney. Another one of our members shared how their child once said they had proof that Santa existed. When they asked about that proof, the child said they knew Santa had to exist “because you’re too cheap to buy me all these presents.” In reflecting on their own childhood, that parent then wondered why it was that Santa only watched when they were bad. After all, they said, “I never remember being told that Santa was watching when I did good things. Only when I did bad things.”
As the mother of Jesus, Mary is given honor in Roman Catholic tradition. Protestants disagree with how that is expressed, seeing some of those practices of devotion as unbiblical. But if Catholics have erred in venerating Mary in inappropriate ways, Protestants have erred by inappropriately ignoring her. After all, Catholics are right: as the mother of Jesus, Mary should be recognized as holding a special place in salvation history, for she is the one through whom the Messiah literally came into the world.
In addition, she also became a faithful follower of the Messiah. Mary is the only disciple of Jesus, for instance, present at His birth, His crucifixion, and in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Mary also has more responses to Jesus recorded in the gospels than any other disciple. And Mary is the only disciple to have a song recorded in the pages of the Bible. That song is called "The Magnificat," with the title coming from the first phrase ('my soul') in Latin.
In this song, we have a better view into God's intent for this world than we do through any other person in the Bible other than Jesus. This Advent, we will therefore be following the themes of the Magnificat in a worship series titled Singing Mary's Song. In this series, we will (like Mary) ponder the following ideas:
- December 2: The Song of ComfortLuke 1:48: "He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed."
- December 9: The Song of EncouragementLuke 1:49: "The Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is His name"
- December 16: The Song of DeliveranceLuke 1:52: "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble."
- December 23: The Song of ExpectationLuke 1:53: "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty."
Two weeks ago, we began an Advent worship series based on a song recorded in Luke that historically has been titled “The Magnificat.” According to Luke, these words were sung by Mary in response to the proclamation of the angel Gabriel that God would enable her to become pregnant despite the fact that she was not yet married. As I introduced the worship series that first week, I shared how shortly after I began seminary, my mother passed away. I also shared how shortly after that, I became responsible for supporting my 16 year old sister, and how her coming to live with me required that I move from Philadelphia to West Chester.
When our son Stephen was young, he was in Cub Scouts. At each level, I was his Den Leader. After a den meeting one night, he and his friends were running around in the fellowship hall of a church as the adults were cleaning up. The boys were told several times to stop running. Each time they were told to stop running, they were also told that we wanted them to stop running because we were concerned that someone was going to get hurt. Lo and behold, a few minutes later Stephen fell, hit his face on the floor, and broke off the bottom half of a front tooth.
In January of 1985, I began seminary. In April, my mother passed away. At only 22, I was on my own. A few months later, my 16 year old sister asked if she could come live with me. After my mother’s death, she had been taken in by a family from the church we were attending, but they were toxic people. So before I turned 23, I became a single parent. Since the seminary in Philadelphia was tax exempt, no school age children could reside in school housing, so I had to move off campus.