As Mary continued in her spontaneous magnification of God that sprang forth from an exceedingly joyful spirit, she did as so many before her exhorted: she sang a new song.
She marveled at how He had shown strength. Through this one mighty deed and this singular work of miraculous power. With this one holy conception. He flexed the arm that has historically and anthropomorphically given Him the human characteristics that support and protect and redeem. Until now, God had been personified throughout the Old Testament. He walked in the garden. And talked with Moses. It was those human characteristics that made the holy a little more relatable. And as Mary sang, God was weaving those generations-long-personifications into Something real. And tangible. With bones and muscles and skin and breath.
He flexed His arm and showed His might. And He scattered the proud. The egotistical. And the arrogant. The ones that daydream about their own greatness. In His sovereignty, God scatters. And He gathers. He humbles. And He lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap to set them among princes. And makes them inherit the throne of glory. And fills their hands with fistfuls of gold dust.
The Holy Spirit gave words to Mary’s voice. “He has put down the mighty from their thrones,” she said. Using a particular Greek phrase that provided the other bookend to this story. Giving glimpse to the very end as she was peeking into the very early beginning. “He has put down,” she said. A phrase that describes
detaching a crucified man from the cross
It’s the same language Luke uses to describe the moment that Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus off the cross and wraps Him in linen. And when he did so, Jesus was already seated on that throne of glory. The lowly now exalted. Glory, hallelujah. “He has put down the lowly from their thrones, and exalted the lowly,” she said.
“And He has filled the hungry with good things,” she sang. Satiating the insatiable. Bestowing bountifully and raining down from heaven upon those who crave intensely. Giving rain from heaven. And fruitful seasons after drought. And filling hearts with food and gladness. “And the rich? The ones who stored up for themselves and looked out for themselves and protected their own self interests to build their wealth and career and empire? The ones who have no heed or care for God and are abundantly furnished with outward possessions? He sends them away empty-handed.”
It’s an interesting word picture, speaking of someone that is empty-handed both physically and spiritually. But, as He always does, God takes it one step further. They are empty-handed – specifically, without a gift.
Among the many laws that Moses communicated to God’s people was one particular command: three times a year, every single man was to appear before the LORD. But there was one detail that was included in tandem with the requirement:
they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed
There was no specific gift that the men were to bring. Every man was to give as he was able. In direct correlation to the blessings that He has given. They had to bring some token that represented what God had already provided. A representation of their dependance upon Him and their gratitude to Him. And suddenly, the wise men bearing the gifts in another man’s account of the birth of the Babe makes much more sense. Because they were going to visit their Savior. And they could not appear before that Him empty-handed. But again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Mary finishes her spontaneous song by rejoicing at the fact that God, through the miraculous conception of the Highest-Top-of-the-Tree-Immanuel, helped His servant Israel. And the descendants of Abraham, God’s friend. In a rainbow-out-of-that-Shekinah-cloud remembrance of His mercy. Because the LORD made an everlasting covenant with Abraham – that He would be God to him and to his descendants after him. And He swore in truth to David – that He would set the fruit of his body upon the throne. And they would inherit the throne of glory.
And then, Mary took a deep breath. And settled in to her much older cousin’s home for a little while. And she rode out her first trimester there before returning to the little-shoot-of-a-town-Nazareth that she called home. Because she had a fiancé waiting for her. And she had quite the story to tell him.
LORD, may I come before You with full hands and a full heart of worship this Advent. May giving a token of my gratitude to You and dependance upon You be at the top of my spending list. And everything else second. Thank You LORD that You satiate the insatiable. And that You give so much more than we deserve.
1 Samuel 2:7-8