Imagine yourself in Mary’s place. She’s pregnant and unmarried, she’s off to another village to visit her cousin Elizabeth and stay with her, probably to shield her from disgrace. She’s quite young – junior high school age – and we’re not hearing anything about her parents supporting her. Her body is behaving in new ways. She’s had a visit from an angel telling her that God has impregnated her and that she is going to be the mother of God incarnate and the saviour of Israel – most parents mourn that parenting is a learning-on-the-job task. Imagine how much more so for parenting the son of God! That’s the perspective on a local, personal scale. On a larger scale, Mary is living in a place where Rome has occupied her territory, there are uprisings by zealot groups and then brutal slayings by the Roman army. The peasant class – her class – are savagely taxed and dirt poor, constantly in debt and likely to lose their land. Slavery is normal. Crucifixions and torture are graphic and public.
Take a moment to think:
How much peace would you have if you were Mary?
What would you require to change for you to feel peace?
How much confidence would you have in God?
How much confidence would you have in your future?
In the midst of all this chaos, Mary sings a mash-up. The technique is not unlike Vanilla Ice's borrowing of Queen and David Bowie. Under Pressure vs Ice Ice Baby - YouTube Mary's song is known as the Magnificat, and she's singing lines that are borrowing from songs she already knows, especially Hannah's song in 1 Samuel 2.
For Mary, peace doesn’t look like quietness or calmness. Peace looks like: scattering those who are proud; humble people in places of honour; hungry have enough to eat; the rich get no special favours; mercy.
The big things that she affirms and that gives her peace are God’s capacity to act, God’s holiness and God’s mercy.
When you read the song in Luke 1, it's remarkable that it's all in present and past tense. Mary is talking about things that have not yet happened. She sings as though all these things have happened. She’s got a kind of belief and hope that assumes that all that God is going to do is a given. Elizabeth says: “The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.” Her faith that God will/has established peace brings her blessing and peace.
I wonder if Mary’s experience of God’s impossible miracle gives permission or possibility to a whole lot of other impossible miracles? If she, a virgin, can conceive, then the hungry can be fed and the powerful humbled. Even if things are terribly messy, Mary sings her faith in past tense.
What remarkable or impossible things has God done that indicate that God can do this in the future?