Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of those extraordinary characters in scripture. She is called on to play a significant role in the story of salvation. She is asked to give birth to the Incarnation, God in human flesh. She could have refused, but as scripture tells us, Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…” (Luke 1:46). It might be more accurate to say that she sang those words. In response to the invitation Mary sang a hymn, a hymn testifying to the majesty of God and the new order heralded by this divine birth.

Kathy Galloway in her short collection of sermons and reflections called, “Walking in Darkness and Light,” says, “… the challenge of Mary to us is not what we speculate about her character, but whether we are able to be active participants, as she was in the many kinds of births God invites us to…” The significance of Mary is related in no small way to her willingness to be open to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in her life.

Her challenge to us then is whether we can be as open to new births in our lives as she was to the invitation of the Holy Spirit. Birth is painful, but the alternative is worse. Ebenezer Scrooge was blessed by the vision and guidance of three spirits. It was painful for him to see his life laid our before him, to see the choices he made and the consequences he and others would suffer if he didn’t change. Yet, he was born again on Christmas morning, he was changed, a new person, blessed with an opportunity given to all of us everyday, to start again.

Scrooge was but a fictional character, a dream of Charles Dickens, a bit of undigested beef perhaps. Mary was not fictional and neither is the invitation from God to new birth. Jesus Christ can be born into any moment of our lives and the pay off, as if we need one, is to wake up on Christmas morning, new people, with a hymn on our lips, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…”

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