I had a great lesson in humility today, it may not sound like much of a big deal but I was asked to lead my young adults Sunday school class. Our fearless leader Karen was home sick and she asked me if I would fill in and let me know that she had planned on talking about The Magnificat. Sure! I said… The Magnificat! Awesome! I said… and then I immediately panicked because I couldn’t quite remember what the Magnificat was, I know, I’m a horrible Lutheran, and even worse pastor’s daughter. So I looked it up, The Song of Mary! Of course! Where to begin…
I went to Luke and read the story, Mary’s words, and tried to understand. While reading these words of praise and trust and amazement that Mary had for the Lord I started to think about who Mary was at the time she spoke these words, what had just been asked of her and how incredible that was. Not to mention her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John, The Baptist at the time she had this conversation with Mary. These two women were asked to birth and mother two of the most important figures in Christianity, Jesus clearly being the most crucial figure. I began to think about the women, not the symbols that they were. Mary was literally a girl, no older than most of my students and she was asked to face social judgments, ridicule, and the possibility of losing her fiancé in order to give birth and raise the savior of human kind, oh, and the Son of God. No biggie, right? While Mary had doubts and was obviously afraid she accepted her task and did it faithfully. And when her cousin Elizabeth asked her, “how do you feel about your new task of mothering the savior of mankind?” and instead of admitting to her fear and anxiety she praised God and all of his might, she praised his preference of the lowly and the humble. And she and Elizabeth did as God called them to do, they had these children and protected them and those children grew up to complete their tasks, and in essence these people saved the world.
So, who are we? Where do we fit? Does God speak to us? Are we called? When I was younger I used to ask my parents all the time, “why doesn’t God talk to us anymore?” I just didn’t get it. I was surrounded by all these stories about people that God had spoken to. So I couldn’t help but wonder, where were our messenger angels? Where were the beams of light? The burning bushes? When I brought this up in Sunday school today one of the others made a great point, he said, “Well, I think it all boils down to the fact that we think to highly of ourselves to hear anything”. After we discussed this a little more we all came to the conclusion that God absolutely speaks to us. But, the world we live in is so loud and so reliant on proof that we forget to listen with our hearts and only focus on what we can see and hear. In the days of Mary and Elizabeth and even Moses the faith was held at the beginning, their was no pride or outside noise to get in the way of hearing God’s call and whole heartedly answering it. These days we usually don’t see our purpose or call until the end. How many times has it happened that way? “I didn’t realize what an impact I’d had until I left”… or “I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone”. And then we call it coincidence or divine intervention and we look up to the sky and say, “way to be tricky God, I see what you did there”… I’m sure every now and then God just looks down and says, “I tried to tell you.”
I asked the group to think of a time when they were in a situation that seemed completely ordinary or when your work seemed pointless and that it wasn’t until the end that you realized what God had in store. I asked them, “What has been a Magnificat moment in your life?” One guy shared a story of how he got involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and how he wasn’t quite sure how to impact this young kids life just by hanging out with him and it wasn’t until the boy’s Grandfather got sick and while sitting in the hospital with the family did he realize what an impact he had had on the entire family just by being a role model for this young kid. When he asked how he and the boy were paired up it was over a simple shared interest in wrestling, that’s it! It was then that he realized God had had a hand in that decision and he had a Magnificat moment. For me, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few Magnificat moments, but the biggest and most influential was my YAGM year. It was a year of struggle and frustration and questioning and as I went to my different farewell gatherings I was finally told by the people who I thought barely noticed my presence what an impact I had on them and their community just by getting on a plane and spending a year with them, talking, walking with them, drinking tea with them, or playing with their children. It was something I wished that I had been aware of the entire time, but I realize now that I simply wasn’t listening.
So, ultimately we came full circle. We looked at these symbolic people who sparked the religion we all hold so dear today, but we didn’t see them as images in a stained glass window, or a figurine on the alter, we looked at them as ordinary people who God asked to be extraordinary. And we admired them for their faith and their trust in God, but also their ability to so fully praise their God and the call he gave them. We shared in Mary’s Magnificat and we looked for our own. As you close this window and go about your day, think about a Magnificat moment in your life, and as we go on listen a little closer to what you might be called to do.