Advent means “coming.” It is the season of preparation for our celebration of the first coming of Jesus, God With Us. It is a time of hope and yearning, when we cry “Come, Lord Jesus.” That cry seems particularly poignant this advent, as we are faced with the reality of a world turned upside-down, where the separation and estrangement brought about by a fallen world have been made tangible in a way most of us have never experienced.
One of the scriptures we connect with Advent is Mary’s Magnificat, her song of praise, in Luke 1:46-55. This was Mary’s response to the greeting from her cousin Elizabeth, and her proclamation about the son Mary was to bear:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on, all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to his servant Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
Mary’s song of praise was a response to God’s promise. The promise was just that – the assurance of a future redemption based only on God’s word. And yet the promise itself is a sign of God’s care and attention. More than a sign, it is a guarantee. Mary speaks of the promised deliverance in the past tense – when the promise is given, we can say with assurance that the redemption has already taken place.
Now I doubt Mary had a clear sense of how God would fulfill the promise of redemption through the child she was carrying. And while more of God’s promised redemption has been revealed to us, we are still left uncertain at times like this. How long, oh Lord, must we stay apart? How long must we be isolated from our brothers and sisters, friends and family? I don’t have an answer for you – only a promise. And as we prepare to celebrate the promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, let us wait on the promise of his return in glory. Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and Peace,