The closing words of Mary’s song in Luke’s Gospel provide a fitting reminder that as we end our season of Advent we are forever blessed by God’s mercy. Mary rejoices with all humility that she is called upon to glorify God for his saving grace, and in so doing, gives voice to all generations who rejoice in the name of the Lord, our Immanuel.
The lyrics of the song lift up the lowly and the hungry and take them to a place out of the ordinary. How often do we strive in our own way to be in this place during Christmas? Traditionally, it is the time for us to sing carols, to light up the night, and to celebrate the arrival of the Christ child into our hearts during the darkest days of the year. But it is also the time for us to get swept up in the busy customs of the season, which is not always a joyful experience.
We are ordinary people who celebrate the holiday season in a variety of our own ways, sometimes because we need to embrace family and friends, and sometimes because we need to overcome the trials and tragedies of the past year. The gifts get more lavish, the music gets louder, the dark nights for some get longer, and in the midst of it we are unable to hear Mary’s voice over the noise, or over the silence. Lowliness is not always about the downtrodden and hunger is not always about food. We all need to be lifted out of the ordinary and, however we live out the season, God is surely present with us.
We may want to do it big, but God does it small. We may want to do it loudly, but God does it quietly. We may want to dwell in darkness, but God brings us a star. He has given us a different way, and as we sing “Mild he lay his glory by,” (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing) we are mindful that his gentle nativity blessing has infinite power behind it; that it is a blessing for every day and for all time. Mary did not simply rejoice in becoming a mother. She rejoiced in serving her God, whose mercy extends from generation to generation. Let us pray that her voice may be our voice, and that her song be our song forever.