Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Magnificat Challenge

Magnificat Challenge:
Why not take some time to memorize Mary's Song, the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46-56? As you memorize, meditate on all of the qualities of God that Mary mentions in this passage. Notice, too, that Mary focuses her  praise and her attention on God and what He was doing for her. We tend to focus on Mary and what she was thinking and going through at that time in her life. Mary's focus was Godward.

Mary was a great woman of faith. All generations have called her blessed, just as she prophesied in her song. At her young age - some say that she may have been as young as 13 years old - God revealed Himself to her in a spectacular way. Even though she was probably illiterate, she knew about God, and she knew God. That does not mean that Mary was a perfect woman, as some teach. She was also a sinner who rejoiced in God, her Savior. However, in spite of the fact that she shared in the same fallen nature as all mankind, God showed Himself to be correct in the choice He made of a mother for His Son. She is a wonderful example of faith for all believers. She was also a woman of great integrity.

Women in our society and in our time have a very different kind of life than the one Mary lived. It is now common for women to get a formal education even beyond the high school level. Many now go to university, when in times past, women were denied such opportunities. I am not against women going to university, though I believe that a college education is way over priced and over rated. Notice, though, that the most blessed of all women who have ever lived did not have any formal education.

Notice that I did not say she was uneducated. Obviously Mary had a deep knowledge of what was  most important. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and she feared God.

Proverbs 1:7

English Standard Version (ESV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If a Christian woman does not fear the Lord, then all the education in the world will not give her true knowledge. Besides, if in the pursuit of knowledge on a college campus, a woman forgets who she is and what she was made for, then her time and her money have been wasted.  As women, we were created for a purpose.  If we forget that, and just serve the purposes of a secular society, we are in danger of losing ourselves.

Imagine what would have happened if Mary had told God that she was not interested in being the mother of His Son. What if Mary had thought that raising children was not enough of a challenge for women? What if she had decided that motherhood was not for her, and that she wanted to do something greater with her life, even thought God was calling her to be a special mother?

I know that not all women are called to get married, or even to have children of their own.  One of my spiritual mothers was a single woman who believed she was called by God to teach.  I wrote about Miss Harrison awhile back.  

So, God used this wise, yet uneducated young woman, as the mother of our Lord.  In that way she blessed all of us. In a day such as ours that downplays the child-bearing role, and gives a woman effective ways to avoid or curtail pregnancy, where would Mary have fit in? She would not have been elected to public office. She would not have been the CEO of a corporation. She would not have gotten into college, let alone grad school. She would not have been any of the things that post-modern women aspire to. She might be called a baby machine or trailer trash if she were alive today.

So, I think that it would be good for every Christian to memorize this short passage of Scripture. Her wisdom, knowledge of God, faith expressed in simple trust of the One she already knew so well, and her integrity speak to all of us. Take some time to meditate on the lessons learned from Mary's example, too.

I am not saying that a woman should not  get a formal education.  I am not saying that only mothers can be used of God. I am just pointing out that the woman most blessed by God did not have any of the opportunities that we women have in our day, yet she was greatly used by God.  I also think that we Christian women need to make sure that our values are informed by Scripture and the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Luke 1
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat (English Standard Version)
46And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

The organ at St. Mary's church, Rochester, NY.

No comments: