Mary, the God-bearer, shows us what it looks like to receive Christ, and to dwell with Him.
If we want to be close to Christ this advent, let us follow in the footsteps of the person who held him closest: Mary.
Join me this week as we meditate on the Magnificat, the Consolation of Eve, and Thomas Tallis' beautiful setting of her words.
Start by listening to the podcast (purple bar below), and then follow along in the notes…
The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.
This is the song of a heart shaped by scripture.
In many churches, pastors go to great lengths to emphasise the fact that Mary was young, unlearned, nothing special, but this is not the picture we are presented with in scripture. Mary’s song (Magnificat) draws from many old Testament prophets, psalmists, and stories, showing that she had a deep knowledge of scripture, that she had pondered it, and perhaps even that she had prepared herself for a moment just like this. Some have even suggested that Mary was dedicated to the temple and raised partially there (like Samuel). We know that she came from a priestly line because her cousin was a priest, and it is obvious that she took that priestly legacy to heart, that she listened when the Torah was read, that the words of the prophets had become the hope of her heart.
This hymn calls to mind numerous examples of Old testament women:
Miriam leading Israel in song after the Exodus (Exodus 15:21)
Hannah after God answers her prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
Deborah after victory in battle (Judges 5)
Biblical scholars note that Eve’s story and song is less like the barren narratives of the Old Testaments and more like the Theophanies of the prophets and priests. God has dwelt with her, and she has seen the world as it truly is. In her hymn she proclaims God’s kingdom, the kingdom of God with us.
2. The Consolation of Eve
Eve used the gift of free will to reject god.
mary used the gift of free will to work with God.
This simple print was made by a nun at Our Lady of Mississippi Abbey. With simplicity and beauty, the image combines many biblical references to show Mary comforting Eve. Mary brings Eve’s hand to her Belly, showing her that the Redeemer is born within her as it was prophesied. She steps on the head of the snake (Genesis 3:14), showing that, just as God promised, Eve’s offspring eventually brought the one who would crush the devil. It is a simple but compelling image, that shows us the magnitude of Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation for the world.
Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer), was the first Christian, the first one whom with God dwelt.
This is our destiny, and we must follow in her holy footsteps.
psssst…. you can buy greeting cards and prints of this image on the monastery’s website. check it out!
3. Magnificat, Thomas Tallis
The Magnificat is Mary’s prophetic outpouring of praise, and her anticipation of God’s coming kingdom.
As you listen to this beautiful piece by the famous English composer Thomas Tallis, meditate in your heart on Mary’s example of faith, of receptivity, of bravery, of complete surrender to God’s will. Pray that you too might be a God bearer, in your own capacity.
A blessed advent to you all!
I look forward to next week.
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This month I’ll be posting all kinds of Christmas goodies, so if you’ve wanted to give it a go, this is the month to try it out! This week I’ll be doing a secret podcast where I simulate a Lessons and Carols service, which is a classic English advent celebration. I’m excited about it, and I hope it will uplift your spirits! If you’re interested in supporting the podcast, check it out at the link below…