“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God
my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their
hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
One of my favorite tv shows
is The Office. I am currently on about my 400th watch of the series.
I shared this last week in our Sunday morning class, and some people in the
class quickly questioned my tastes in entertainment. I don’t care. I love it.
The show centers around
Michael Scott, regional manager of Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In
the fourth season, his new boss Ryan Howard comes in for a presentation. In it
he shares plans to massively overhaul the way the company works. A new website,
where most of the sales will take place. Blackberries for every employee. Much
more of the company being online.
It doesn’t sink in for
Michael. After the meeting, he talks with Ryan in his office. He says to his
just want to make sure that vis-a-vis me in the office, everything is business
it’s business but not as usual,” Ryan responds.
no, I understand. We’re making great strides and you’re updating. – But
business as usual, no?”
We threw out the playbook, We are start from scratch. We’re implementing a
brand new system.”
so we’re on the same page.”
Michael ends it with a
frustrated face, just wanting everything to be the same way it always has been.
Throughout the scene, he never gets that things are changing. That this meeting
was not just for show, it was to lead them in a whole new direction. He feels
much more comfortable with “business as usual” than anything that shakes things
up, that leads in a new direction.
I am reminded of this scene
because that is often how we as followers of Christ act. We celebrate this
Advent and Christmas season – we hear the words of Isaiah and John, Elizabeth
and Mary, we sing songs of praise and joy, we light candles, we wrap presents,
we bake cookies, we share meals with family and friends. And I love all those
But then we go straight back
to business as usual. We view the world and ourselves as if the incarnation of
Christ has made no major changes.
And that is why I love this
song of Mary, mother of Jesus. It is a song of joy. It is a song of praise. But
it is also a song about our world being flipped upside down. The lowly are
lifted up. The proud are scattered. Servants are favored above kings. The
hungry are filled, and the rich are brought low. Everything is about to
One of the most beloved songs
of this season is “Mary, Did You Know?” It is a song that connects the birth of
Jesus to all he will do here on earth with us and for us. It is a beautiful
song. But it is an interesting title, because Mary knows the message of the
incarnation so much better than we do. While we are tempted to hold on to
business as usual, to a world still ruled by the mighty, the wealthy, the
privileged, by the systems we have known, Mary sings of a whole new kingdom
ruled by peace, and justice, and mercy.
Mary reminds us just how big
of a deal it is that God is coming to dwell among us. Nothing will ever be the
For me this song of Mary
invites me not to rush so quickly through this season. Not to make it just
about gifts and cookies and ugly sweater parties. But to take some time to reflect
on what this act of the incarnation means. God, the Creator of our universe,
the maker of heaven and earth and all that dwells in it, God who is holy and
beautiful, and knows all of our messiness and brokenness, fighting and
division, looked down on earth, where we live, and said, “I will go there. I
will be one of them, both fully God and fully human. I will know the joy of
human laughter, and the pain of human loss. I will know what it is like to get
sick, to be hungry, to bleed, to cry. I will know what it is to touch another
human’s skin.” God did this to bring hope to the hopeless, food to the hungry,
healing to the sick, clothing to the naked, forgiveness to the sinner, welcome
to the outcast, and love to the unloved. God did this out of love for us, to
help us, to change us, and to transform our world forever.
Advent and Christmas invites
us not to see the world as business as usual. But instead see it through the
lens of God’s incarnation into our world, the Word becoming flesh, love coming
down to where we are. And that starts in each one of us. The transformation of
the world begins in each one of us being transformed ourselves.
In this song of Mary, I am
often drawn to the hope of those being lifted up – the hungry, the poor, the
lowly. But there is also the reverse in this passage. The mighty, the rich, the
comfortable, needing to be brought low. And while there are times I need to be
lifted up, I also have seasons where I need God to also bring me back down. To
touch the earth. To give thanks for the soil that brings new life. To kneel
before God in awe in praise. To serve my neighbor in humility and love. To let
go of my own pride. To play with children on their level. To see those on the
margins I often pass right on by.
Whatever you need this
season: to be lifted up or to be brought low, we all need to see the world the
way Mary sees it. As being changed forever. A reversal of power. To see our
world led by love and mercy, justice and grace, not just in this season of
lights and candles, but in all our days to come. To seek that kingdom in our
world. And to have it begin within each one of us. Amen.