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Luke 1:46b-55

Musicians seem to have a take on the world that mirrors the Almighty. Reflecting creation itself, music essentially forms something meaningful out of nothing at all. Random waves of air become organized into patterns that bring sensibility out of chaos and resonate deeply with the human spirit. I wonder if Mary, the mother of Christ, was a musician. Did she have hope that her understanding of the waves of God’s breath in her body could be organized through musical expression? Or was her song effortlessly delivered to her lips in much the same way she found herself carrying the tiny human form of the Divine?

The “Song of Mary” is sung from the depths of her heart in response to being identified as the bearer of the Savior of the World. Her song has much in common with Hannah’s as she took her cherished firstborn son, Samuel, to live with the high priest in the temple. Truth be told, the song probably also reflects the musings of any woman who has found herself awed at the prospect of bringing an act of love to full personhood within her own body. Mary’s song is both personal and universal, as is the work of the child she carried, calling forth change in both the heart and the social order.

We come to this song and are caught up in the passion and wonder Mary expressed—a canticle that both encircled and transcended her personal experience. We can almost forget that we are hearing the song as part of a greater cantata, while Mary could only guess at how the rhythm of her heart was to impact the course of human history.

In the midst of what started as an ordinary day, responding to an extraordinary moment in which she is recognized by an unborn John the Baptist, Mary’s heart is bursting. In dramatic fashion, Luke as writer/director calls for a “stop action” moment–like one of those old Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, suddenly the narrative halts, and the main character begins belting out: “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!” Nothing communicates or calls for raw emotion better than a spontaneous outburst of show-stopping song. For Mary, and for us, there is not only a “beautiful morning,” but also “A Whole New World.” This is no Disney magic carpet ride for two. As worshippers looking in on this experience, we might find a principal that leads us to understand that an emotional encounter with God goes beyond the encounter itself and moves us toward greater purpose. Mary is moved by emotion toward true worship. What does she do with her feelings? She magnifies the Lord.

It is perhaps worth considering what she does NOT magnify. To magnify is to change focus—to make larger those things that one wants to look at in more detail. Mary does not magnify morning sickness, or the terror of being shamed in her community as an unwed mother. She does not even magnify the remarkable response of John in his mother’s womb or the mystery of how she became pregnant to being with. Instead, in a spirit of pure joy, she magnifies the Lord. Mary moves from a reflection on her own experience and towards a deeper understanding of the Lord’s mighty works for the whole world.

I wonder what it might look like for us as gathered communities to consistently come together in pure joy–because we have seen the mighty works of the Lord in our humble personal experiences and we simply can’t wait to magnify those mighty works we have seen throughout the week in the presence of the body of believers. From the personal toward the universal recognition of God’s greatness, in small communities of faith.

Mary’s song provides us with further evidence of the movement from deeply personal to radically universal. Mary does not just passively accept her role as a personal act of submission. It was that and more! Mary fully embraces her place in God’s universal plan: “from now on, all people will call me blessed!” Mary has completely aligned herself with the mission of God, whatever it means in her present experience and whatever it means in the future. There is a term for this kind of being fully onboard with another person in the psychology of parenting world. The word is attunement. I was reminded of this terminology very early one morning when I received a text from my adult daughter, who said something like “I may be thoughtlessly waking you up just like a real baby…” And I responded to her, “No, just like when you were a real baby, I was already awake.” There is a rhythm established between healthy and focused parent and child that is reinforced by our essential biological patterns. Baby looks at Mom, Mom looks at baby and they lock into each other. Their breathing reflects each other’s, their heartbeats establish a kind of musical rhythm. Baby needs to eat, mom has already gotten ready. Baby becomes anxious, mom gets anxiou