Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Magnificat - Song of Mary

The Magnificat if often sung in the liturgy, most fittingly for the Divine Office of Vespers. This is the Blessed Virgin's Mary's song as a hymn to God. Luther writes that with Mary, "the saints will do nothing in heaven but praise God, because He looked upon them when they were in the depths and there made Himself known to them and loved and praised by them." Calvin and reformed theologians have often struggled with the Blessed Virgin because they cannot conceive of the fullness of the deity finding glory in the womb of a woman. They speak often about the "awesome" and "sovereign" power of God but little about His lowliness, and suffering as the truth expression of His glory. But in this most lovely song of the church Mary in faith believes all that the angel Gabriel announces, for she sings, "For Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed...

My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,

For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with His arm

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,and exalted those of low degree.

He has filled the hungry with good things;and the rich He has sent empty away.

He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;

As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His Seed forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

And Mary is called "blessed" she is the mother of God, Jesus Christ. For the Mighty One who does "great things" is God's final act of salvation on the Cross. He comes as a suffering servant, being both priest and sacrifice, fully God and fully man.

Many reformed theologians deny the incarnation, and find more fitting myths for Jesus' birth and Resurrection. A new popular theory denies the atonement all together and accuses the bible, the church, and pastors for supporting what they consider "cosmic child abuse" with the whole business of suffering for sins on the cross. They find it unpalatable that God who's very essence is "goodness" would do such a thing.

Yet God becomes man and willingly, and lovingly bears the sins and burdens of humankind without complaint and only joy. Indeed when Christ is suffering on the cross he prays the psalms and makes intercessions to the very soldiers crucifying him and the scoffers with mock him.

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