I’d like to share with you an Advent meditation that we used in the Soul Care Groups I lead for pastors. You may want to share it with your small group or you can use it in your personal devotions.
An Advent Meditation on Mary’s Magnificat
For two thousand years Mary’s Magnificat has been a source of daily prayer for Christ-followers who use The Liturgy of the Hours. She exclaimed these words upon hearing her older cousin Elizabeth confirm that she was indeed carrying Christ the Lord in her womb!
We seem to have the idea that when Mary sang the Magnificat it was as if the clouds parted and a divine light beamed into her body and she burst forth singing with the assistance of a choir of angels! Probably it was more than a moment of sudden inspiration from God. It’s likely that Mary’s song was informed by her readings of the Old Testament and her conversations with family and friends about the coming of the Messiah. For instance, we know that Mary prayed and discussed the great prayer of Hannah in the Old Testament and that Mary’s song has similarities to Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
We also know that Mary was a woman who “treasured and pondered in her heart” the things that God showed her (Luke 2:19). Probably she prayed or sang her Magnificat many times throughout her life, perhaps even before her visit with Elizabeth, but especially in the days and years afterwards. That makes sense because she certainly needed the blessed words of life that God gave her! For a long time no one but Joseph believed her story that she was pregnant by a miracle of the Holy Spirit — she was branded with the Scarlet A! Like Jesus, all of her life she lived with the slanderous accusations that were spoken against her (John 9:29).
Imagine Mary walking to the village well to get water and people frowning at her and whispering about her. If she looked to them for acceptance she’d feel embarrassed and insecure, but instead she smiles and quietly hums the words of the glorious song that God gave her! “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord… All generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me…” (Luke 1:46-47).
Mary experienced many other trials in her life, like poverty, fleeing to Egypt when Herod wanted to kill baby Jesus, losing her husband at young age and raising a family without him, and the sword that pierced her heart when her son was scourged and crucified (Luke 2:35). I can imagine Mary praying and singing the Magnificat to help her see with eyes of faith beyond her circumstances and into the spiritual reality of the Kingdom of God where she was indeed blessed and the strong arm of the Lord Almighty was doing great things for her and through her to others!
This is a picture of Mary that I can relate to in the trials that I face. I can practice seeing the unseen Kingdom of God in my midst and putting my trust in the risen Christ who is there with me.
Mary’s Magnificat from the Gospel of Luke
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
“He has come to help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Luke 1:46-55; The Liturgy of the Hours, ICET)
Quietly reflect on these questions. You may want to journal or prayer your responses. Then share with your group or a friend.
- Imagine yourself in Mary’s position meditating on Luke 1:46-55. What do you feel? What words in Mary’s Song is the Holy Spirit drawing your attention to?
- What is going on in your life today? This Advent season how do you need for God to show up?
Dear Father God, how we love you! We sing with Mary that you have looked with favor on us, most especially in coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. You are holy and you have done great things in our lives. We are watching for your hand of mercy, ready to join in with what your Holy Spirit is doing in our midst so that we can bring honor to Jesus by loving the people near us. Amen.
To cultivate more of Mary’s faith in God you might carry in your heart today a favorite Breath Prayer that I wrote: “With Jesus I can… Looking to his hand.”
Soul Shepherding Advent Resources
To prepare your heart for the coming of Christ our new Advent resource Devotionals and Prayer Cards for Advent includes a passage of Scripture, picture, reflection, and Breath Prayer from the Bible.