If you know me, you know I’m somewhat of a rebel. I like to challenge the status quo, but only because I want to see things be better than they are. It’s for that reason, I think, that I am so drawn to this passage. Throughout Church history this passage has been called the Magnificat (Latin for Magnify), or the Canticle of Mary. It is a song of rejoicing that the status quo is being flipped upside down. It’s a song of the Kingdom of God rather than a song of Empire of the World. Everything about the Magnificat makes it a great resource for Advent – a season that is all about the Kingdom of God breaking into the Empire of the World and setting things to right.
The Magnificat starts off as any good rebellion against the Empire should, with a proclamation of the goodness of God! “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!” God is good! The Empire calls us to fear, the myth of scarcity, and division, while the Kingdom reminds us that because of the goodness of God we can hope, we know that the truth is that we live in a world of abundance, and that we are able to be unified, that there is much more than unites us compared to what divides us. This joyful rebellion against the Empire reminds us that the ways of the world are not the ways of God. God has looked with favor on a lowly a servant! Empires look down on servants, but God in the glorious Kingdom raises them up. For this goodness and upside down way, we rejoice.
We see Mary continue in her song about the goodness of God and how she has been blessed and how her world has completely changed. She has gone from a poor, average, humble servant to one of the greatest women in human history, one whom all generations will call blessed. Mary recognizes in this song of rebellion against the Empire that it is not just she who is blessed, but rather all the lowly and humbled are blessed in the Kingdom. Those whom the Empire discards, the Kingdom lifts up.
“He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
These words are a rebel’s anthem. Mary, through the goodness and grace of God, is saying yes to the Kingdom and no the Empire. She is rejoicing in God her savior who flips the world upside down and puts all things to right. Mary is singing the grace of God. Mary is telling of the hope that there is for the downtrodden. And also, often overlooked, she is telling the Empire and its ways to watch out. Those who have neglected the humbled, the hungry, and the poor will see the strong arm of God. This is something to rejoice about. We can join with Mary in magnifying the Lord through this song of Empire rebellion.
As we continue in our Advent season I hope pastors take advantage of the gift of the Magnificat. I hope pastors sing, pray, and preach their own songs of rebellion against the Empire. I hope they sing songs, pray prayers, and preach sermons of allegiance to the Kingdom of Christ who we are eagerly awaiting with deep anticipation. Pastors, one way you could do this is to sing a modern day song that is similar to the Magnificat, at least in my opinion. The song is a mash-up of two well-known songs and is sung by a fairly well-known singer. It’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It / O Come All Ye Faithful” by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister (it can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLkFS9EEKmI ) You read that right – Dee Snider has given us a beautiful Magnificat for today. These two songs mashed together give us the same feeling as the Magnificat should: rebellion against the Empire of the World and hope of Kingdom of Christ. We’re no longer going to be enslaved by the tyranny of the Empire, but instead, we will come faithfully to the King of all creation whom we will celebrate the birth of in just a few short weeks.
Preach hope, friends. Preach the hope of the Kingdom in a world overrun with the Empire. Preach the hope of Christ. Preach the hope that reminds the hearers that we as the faithful will come to Christ the King and that we are no longer going to take the tyranny of the Empire of the World. O come all ye faithful because we’re no longer gonna take it. Preach hope and rebel against the Empire.