by Rev. Brian Johnson
On Sunday in worship, we talked about Mary and Hannah, and the songs that they sing.
Our scripture lessons were from Luke (in the New Testament) and 1 Samuel (in the Old Testament). Our reading from Luke included Mary’s song (often called “The Magnificat,” a name that comes from the first word of the Latin translation), while our reading from 1 Samuel included a passage traditionally known as Hannah’s song. These songs are words of prophesy – words that come from God and are spoken by people who are inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. They take the form of poetry. They are also remarkably similar – focusing on many overlapping concerns. Both Hannah and Mary, as they sing songs of praise to God, identify God as their savior – as the One who lifts up the downtrodden, brings justice for the oppressed, fights against evil and injustice, and who will, one day, put an end to all that is wrong with the world. Mary and Hannah identify God as the one who is on the side of justice. And, because Hannah and Mary have both suffered injustice and oppression, they are thankful – so thankful that they break into song – for the Good News of a God who fights against evil and who is working for good.
There is a lot that we could learn from these passages from Scripture. But, for today, what I want to encourage us to do is think about what it means for us to sing with Hannah and Mary. What does it mean to join our voices to theirs, to participate in these songs of praise?
There are probably lots of good answers to that question. But, the clearest one, to me, is that we are invited to join God in the work God is doing to bring justice, healing, and hope to God’s world. Mary and Hannah praised God for bringing justice and defeating evil. Whenever we join in the work of justice – by feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, providing hope to the hopeless, welcoming everyone at the table of Jesus, fighting against the systemic abuses that cause so much harm in our world (things like systemic poverty, systemic racism, etc.) – when we work for justice, and when we speak up for what is right, we are singing along with Mary and Hannah, joining their song of praise to the God who is in the business of justice, peace, transformation, and hope.
So, as we move towards Christmas, I invite you to sing along with Mary and Hannah. May you praise God not only with Christmas Carols, but by doing what is right, working to improve the lot of others, and sharing healing and hope with a world that desperately needs it.
Jesus is the light of the world, and we get to reflect his light to a world that is trapped in darkness. When we reflect his light – when we share the love of God that we have received – we are singing along with Mary, praising the God of justice by working to multiply God’s justice.
May your life be a living song of praise to God!
Looking for previous entries?
Find our ’22 Advent devotional archive online. haymarketchurch.org/advent