Our worship service this Sunday will feature the Magnificat by J.S. Bach. Under the direction of Evanne Browne, our Chancel Choir will be joined by our Choir Friends and orchestra for this special morning. The Magnificat is based on Jesus’ mother Mary’s exquisite song of praise found in Luke 1:46-55.
Mary’s song echoes the prayer of Hannah found in Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah longed for a child but had never been able to conceive. One day in near desperation Hannah goes to the temple and in the midst of her tears and her sobbing asks God for a son. In return Hannah promises that this child will be dedicated to God’s service. Soon Hannah conceives and gives birth to a baby boy. Hannah’s prayer is in response to this birth.
Hannah names her child Samuel. Samuel becomes the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major Hebrew Prophets. Samuel is called by God to save the Hebrew people not only from the armies of the Philistines but also from their own ambitions to put their national self-interests ahead of God’s purposes. It is a tumultuous time of uncertainty in a rapidly unfolding future.
Some 1200 years later Mary recalls this song at another time of confusion, oppression and unrest with a future that seemed to be growing more bleak and increasingly violent. Fear of tomorrow was flourishing much more than faith in God’s purposes.
In response, Mary affirms both the new life growing in her womb and the new life that God is offering the world. And Mary prays … Magnificat anima mea Dominum … my soul magnifies the Lord. Mary bears witness to the presence and the power of God’s purposes even amid the toughest days and the hardest times, even amid a confusing present and an unpredictable future.
Mary sees possibilities. Mary sees hope. Mary sees marvelous new opportunities. That is the Christmas story – responding to life with hope in the possibilities that God is unfolding for us right before our very eyes.
See you Sunday. In the meantime please keep our beloved church in your prayers. I remember you in mine.