Advent is almost over, the season of the church year that anticipates Christmas. At some point during Advent I like to read the Magnificat, Mary’s psalm of praise in anticipation of her son’s birth, and listen to Charles Villiers Stanford’s lovely musical setting of that text.
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
It’s beautiful, but sometimes it seems to me that Christianity is a religion of deferred satisfaction. God is supposed to scatter the proud, put down the mighty, exalt the low, and fill the hungry, but the world still has plenty of injustice, inequality, and hunger. A cynic would ask when God plans on keeping his word. The faithful, though, would point out how he already has. So much good has happened in the world, especially over the last two centuries. Apartheid and slavery ended even though many thought they never would. Women can vote and hold office in most of the world. The Green Revolution has made sure hundreds of millions are fed. People are more free to worship as they choose than they’ve ever been. All because inspired people believed change was possible. As Gabriel told Mary, with God, nothing shall be impossible.
That makes me glad to be a Christian.