When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb … And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant …’ (Luke 1:41a, 46-47)
Reflection 1: When I chose this reading I’ll admit I hadn’t looked closely at the topic. Alison told me later that it’s called sing in the new because it’s a story of joy as two women await the arrival of their babies. And of course all over the world and in our own lives this is often the case. My youngest sister is expecting her first baby in June. One of five children, I have seen the arrival of many blessed babies and shared in the joy of the occasion. But I have never myself experienced this joy.
In fact, this reading brings a very difficult topic to light for me and the memory of one particular day, both incredibly difficult and in retrospect incredibly comforting.
Having been rostered on the do this reading at church one Sunday, I had struggled through it feeling a deep sense of sadness at not having a long awaited child of my own and found myself afterward in tears, sitting with my mentor.
The prayer I received that day remains clear in my mind, as it does each time I encounter the same sense of sadness I did that day. It was a reminder that despite my barrenness God had a role for me in the lives of many children, and that I would in fact be a mother to many.
Little did I know then but my training in education and counselling would lead me to care for thousands of vulnerable young people, and in fact not having children of my own would give me more time for this and continued training in this area.
As I reflect on this reading it reminds me that there are times that are often expected by those around us to be happy times, which can in fact be very difficult times for some. But that with the love and kindness of those around us God can use these times to bless us.
Reflection 2: Mary’s song is so amazing! She knew that through this pregnancy and birth God was tipping the world upside down. She was just an ordinary young woman but with her consent she knew that God was doing something new and something completely grace-filled. She sings,
He has brought down the powerful // from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; // He has filled the hungry with good things // and has sent the rich away empty.
Mary’s words lift up the present, ongoing work of God in the world. They celebrate God’s gracious actions and not the actions of those who may seek to take social privilege and power into their own hands.
The action of God in raising the ‘lowly’ brings me back to a memory of my time in Jakarta when I was just a young woman. I had asked who I was staying with to take me to places tourists didn’t go to. He did, but I was not prepared for what I experienced. I saw shocking poverty and illness. As we drove, I turned my head away from a deformed beggar pleading to me through the window. This experience plummeted me into depression. I implored God to show me what I needed to learn.
I found my answer in a verse in Psalms, ‘He picks up the poor from out of the dust and rescues the wretched who have been thrown out with the rubbish. He gives them a place of honour’ [my paraphrase].
I want to sing this new song with Mary.