By: John Dowdell

My soul now magnifies the Lord!
And my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior, my Lord.
For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations
will call me blessed.
For he that is mighty has magnified me,
And holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him
Throughout all generations.
He has shown strength with his arm,
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And has exalted the humble and meek.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich he has sent empty away.
He, remembering mercy, has helped his servant Israel
As he promised to our fathers Abraham
and his seed forever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
World without end. Amen.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.
All through the night, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. 

In Luke 1, Mary is visited by an angel, who gives her good news of great joy; she is told that she will bear the Son of God. Soon afterwards, she travels to stay with her sister Elizabeth. Upon her arrival, in verses 46-55, she shares this news to her sister through the text of My Soul Now Magnifies, also known as the Magnificat. While it is a bit early in the church season for this particular Advent story, I think it’s instructive to see how Mary shares her new joyful blessing – by focusing all the attention towards God and His marvelous plan.

Her news is indeed joyful, which is captured in the triumphant musical opening by Basler, but most of what she shares is about the faithfulness and providing nature of God, both in her life and throughout all generations. And what a wonderful characterization of God she shares! One who takes down the mighty and exalts the humble, who feeds the hungry, who keeps His covenant with Israel. All expressed in full exuberance of the good news that she received.

What does this sort of joy look like? Well, we may not really even have to imagine it; I can’t help but draw parallels to what Sandy shared in her amazing testimony on Sunday at retreat. Like Mary, Sandy shared her blessing with delight, but was also very deliberate in giving credit to God and His providence through both the highs and the lows of that journey.

Whenever we can turn attention towards God, that’s one example of us shining a light, which is the subject of our second anthem. While the musical setting of Carnahan’s piece is very different from the Basler, there is still a quiet joy throughout, one that comes from sharing the good news. We know that spreading this light does make an impact, as John 1:5 tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

As we go through this week, one thing we can consider is how we handle the blessings in our lives. Where has God blessed us, what can we use to turn attention towards God and His providence, and where can we let that light shine?

Dear Father,
We thank you for the blessings that we have in our lives, and the joy that it brings us. When we share that joy, may we turn the attention back towards you, as we have seen both with Mary and with Sandy. Thanks for your faithfulness in our lives and throughout the generations; may we each take a step to better shine your light in the darkness. In your mighty name we pray, Amen.


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