The Magnificat became alive to me during my curacy at Rochester cathedral. To hear the same words sung every evening to a different musical setting allowed God to speak powerfully and differently. Daily repeated words took a different emphasis and conveyed a different meaning.
The words are familiar to many:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour 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,
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
I have been struck by Mary’s words of blessing … ‘From this day all generations will call me blessed’. Mary feels blessed. I have one question about that ….
Why does Mary feel blessed?
I ask because I have been mulling on her situation at the time of these words.
A single girl. Not that well off. Engaged. Young. A virgin who has just been knocked up by the Holy Spirit. Life is not going to be easy for this girl, and she realises that. This is a bad time for this to happen to her!
She realises what people in the village are going to say. She realises her parents, her friends, even Joseph himself are not going to believe her. I mean … the line is hardly that believable is it … ‘I’m, err, pregnant … but it wasn’t me it was God … I’m still a virgin. I’m still ok to marry. Honest!’ (words that I imagine to have been said in the context of the time … which in no way indicate my present view of marriage … just in case you were wondering!)
I guess I ask the question because I have become aware that I have fallen into the trap of misinformation where I have allowed myself to equate the word ‘blessing’ with a ‘gift’ or an ‘easy time’ or a ‘change in the situation’. Blessing and gift are two different things. Mary started this chapter poor, and she is still poor and we know she remains poor, yet she says she describes herself as blessed.
As I have mulled these words over I have wondered if there is a little bit of Mary defiance in these words of hers. She knows her calling, her yes to God, is going to present her with a fair amount of crap in her immediate life …. and yet she defiantly looks ahead, trusts God, and her yes allows herself to see herself as being blessed.
So what you may ask?
My ‘so what’ is that I have remembered that blessing from God is not dependant on how we feel or upon the immediate situation we find ourselves in. In other words, how we feel is not a real indication of whether we are blessed or not. The blessing is a fact! It is there, created within our DNA. The God imprint upon our lives.
Rather than being some gift or situation change, I wonder if the blessing of God is more about choosing to see God at work, trusting that, and accepting that God is actually doing something, that God is actually working.
I think recently I have lost sight of that …. and I believe Advent is the right season to remember that, sometimes, we need to take on a bit of Mary defiance and simply get on with life … because we are blessed.
So …as the day draws nearer, may we defiantly remember and grasp and trust that blessing … Amen.