OK ... this might be the busiest time of the year for a pastor. This week there are at least 3 music practices, 2 concerts (The Camarada on Tuesday and the Sandy/Andy Christmas Concert Thursday), a Salvation Celebration (Wednesday at 7pm), a Christmas Parade (Monday), a presentation at the Chamber Luncheon (Thursday) and all sorts of unknown happenings including visits, prayers and calls. Those do not include extricating the tree from the parsonage, an annual doctor visit and normal weekly activities. Many of you share a similarly crazy schedule. It is not easy to find peace, quiet time and the time to breathe and reflect.
In Chapter 1 of Luke Mary is experiencing life-altering events and every reason to think chaos has made its way into her life. She has heard from Gabriel and has submitted her life to the will and work of God. It should be a crazy and scary time for her. But Mary does something that I should do when I have weeks like these. Mary stops to do maybe the most important thing she will do in her upside-down world. She takes time to lift up and praise the God she loves!
The Magnificat is Mary's song of praise that is contained in verses 47-55 of Luke Chapter 1. It is beautiful. It is praise. It is peace in the midst of storms. The word (Magnificat) means "My soul magnifies the Lord!" Mary is bursting with praise, adoration and a sense of peace with her God. Reading her song of praise brings me peace too!
Mary says God's greatness and power is expressed in at least 3 ways. Those three ways are all about the kingdom of God that operates in the midst (and in spite of) the kingdom of this world. First, God's power is personal. Mary realizes God is great enough to become small and enter our individual lives. "He took notice of this lowly servant girl" she sings. "He has done great things for me." I fail miserably to express and recognize the great things God does that effect me every day! God's greatness should always be personal to me.
Second, God's greatness is panoramic. It includes everyone and everything. God hasn't forgotten to keep promises He has made since time began. "He shows mercy from generation to generation." "He made this promise (Jesus) to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever." The coming of Jesus, according to Mary, is God keeping the beautiful and panoramic promise made to all people ... a covenant that has spanned all time. "The earth is filled with the knowledge and the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:14)." God is panoramic.
Finally, God is paradoxical. This season is an expression of this truth. God doesn't select the royal, the rich, the 'righteous' (religious leadership), the popular or the powerful. He is the God who "sent the rich away with empty hands," "scattered the proud and haughty ones, "exalted the humble." God selects and sends those who fail at the standard of the world's kingdom. For God's kingdom is different.
As I read Mary's beautiful song I remember that I can live in God's kingdom. I can have peace in my chaos. I can have light in darkness. Because I have a God that is personal, panoramic and paradoxical ... the Prince of Peace! Randy