< Back

The Revd Katy Hacker Hughes

Today’s gospel is Mary’s song of praise, sung from the heart, on the occasion of her visit to Elizabeth. It is an extraordinary song – full of power, challenge, beauty and vision. It is a foundational prayer for Christians; sung in great cathedrals, it also was censored in some countries as too radical, and is at the heart of liberation theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis called it ‘the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung’.

The Magnificat communicates, inspires and challenges on a global but also a personal level. So as we approach Christmas and New Year at such an uncertain time, what does insights does Mary’s Magnificat offer to us?

Lets take a couple of snapshots from today’s reading:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour’. Mary invites us to worship God with all our being, not just words, to lose ourselves in prayer and adoration, to sing with the heart. Come to church and belt out those carols!

‘The mighty one has done great things for me’. Mary invites us to be thankful, to count the blessings God has given us, rather than simply focus on the things that are difficult or make an idol of our anxiety. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances’ Paul encourages us to be thankful, even when it seems bonkers to do so. There is spiritual power in thanksgiving.

‘His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation’ Mary invites us to take the long view – faith is not our personal possession now, but something we inherit and pass on, and communicate to others.
‘He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly’ Mary reminds us that God’s kingdom is seen in the way we treat the vulnerable and challenge the unjust structures in our society. Could we ‘lift up’ someone over this period through kindness, generosity or advocacy?

‘He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy according to the promise he made to our ancestors’. Mary invites us to trust in God, because others have trusted and God has been shown to be faithful. Trust is a dynamic action

So – real worship, thankfulness, sharing of the gospel, generosity, radical care, and trust. In all the madness that surrounds us, lets take our inspiration from the Magnificat. And may the hope she expresses be in our hearts this Christmas and in the year ahead.