My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Her voice penetrates the places of power with utter astonishment at grace.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
From the first butterfly tickles to the rolling kicks in her belly, she knows that God is coming in justice, feeding the hungry and raising those who have been beaten down.
God has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
She lives rooted in historic memory, remembering God's faithfulness to others.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
I once read in an alumni magazine for a Christian college and seminary that the church has become soft and feminized. Showing pictures of ladies at tea parties, they claimed one reason they thought that many men were not attracted to faith communities was that the majority of graduates from mainline seminaries were women, and women offer a view of faith that doesn't appeal to men's sense of adventure.
As I read Mary's prayer, I can only shake my head. A woman's voice, particularly a young woman oppressed and without rights in an occupied country, speaks anything but a soft message devoid of challenge. Maybe our problem isn't that we listen too much but we listen too little to the voices that have not been traditionally in power. The voices of the oppressed and suppressed are the ones that speak of faith, hope, and love in such a way that exposes injustice and call us to courageous faith that God is working and intervening on our behalf.
This Christmas, I hope to hold these voices in my head . . . voices of the Iraqi Christians that are fearing for their lives, voices of the young people denied room at the inn by the Senate's failure to pass the Dream Act, voices of the sick and dying with whom I have walked this year who spoke of God's faithfulness even in their pain, the voice of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is sitting in jail for speaking out for freedom and human rights, and the voices of those displaced by earthquake, famine, war, and flood. I hold these voices with Mary's hope and longing, hoping that we will open our hearts and minds to be more fully instructed by these voices in the coming year.
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