–By Elizabeth Ahlman
 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;  he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:46-55 ESV).
On the final Sunday in Advent, Mary’s beautiful Magnificat points us both backward and forward. Mary reminds us that God works in reversals. His salvific work creates something new, turns the world on its head, breaks all the human “rules.”
Mary’s words send us backward to the Old Testament. God looked on other humble people as well and made them “blessed.” Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Leah, Hannah, Ruth — all people who God used in His plan of salvation despite their limitations, “disqualifications” and personal reservations. Yahweh saved His people repeatedly, showing His strength as He rescued them from Egypt, returned them from exile, and more. Scripture is filled with examples of God filling the hungry and helping Israel. All of these Old Testament reversals and saving works point forward to the ultimate reversal and saving work God would accomplish through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, God reverses the the effects of sin and death on the world and on His people. In Jesus, God the Father takes what is humble and lowly — a death on a cross — and makes it His glory. In Jesus, God takes what is dirty and unclean — our sinful selves — and makes it white as snow. In Jesus, God takes the poor and makes them rich in His mercy and grace. In Jesus, God shows the strength of His mighty arm and defeats sin, death and the devil once and for all. In Jesus, Yahweh helps His servant Israel — all those who are baptized into His Name — in remembrance of His mercy over and over and over again. In Jesus, Yahweh makes sinners into saints, orphans into beloved children, the weak into the strong, the poor into the rich, the hungry into the fed.
Mary’s Magnificat points forward to precisely what God did in Christ Jesus’ birth, to what God did in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and to what God continues to do in us as He baptizes us into His Name, feeds us with Jesus’ body and blood, and speaks the words of Absolution to us through our pastors. We experience God’s mercy as we are made saints, beloved children, strong, rich and satisfied. Ultimately we will know the greatest reversal of all: death will give way to the resurrection and the life eternal.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give You thanks and praise for the reversals You cause through Your Son Jesus Christ; continue to bring us out of death and sin into resurrected life on account of Your Son, so that we may live with You in all eternity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Read last week’s devotion.
- Next week there will be a special New Year’s devotion from our guest writer for this month, Rev. David Mahsman.