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Advent Week 2 – Expectant Waiting: Mary and Her Magnificent Song 

Hello to all,

Below is the message given on the second week of Advent in Melbourne entitled Mary’s Magnificent Song.  Merry Christmas to all!

Your pastor and brother,

Steve Schantz


Expectant WaitingMary and Her Magnificent Song      12/09/17 GCM

Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.

During advent we remember God’s fulfilled promise to send His people a Savior, a Mighty counselor, a light unto the gentiles, and a prophet like no other.  Last week we saw how expectant hope is an overriding theme of Advent from both the perspective of the ancient Hebrew people looking for deliverance from bondage as an oppressed people and for our world today needing spiritual deliverance from slavery and the final restitution of all things which Christ will bring with Him at the consummation of this age. Consider the unwed teenage mother Mary, Magi’s coming in from the East following a star to see Jesus, smelly herdsman coming in from the field, and of course a confused groom who learns that his virgin wife to be is pregnant with child!  These are some of the cast of characters surrounding the manger and the birth of Jesus this season.  He has a family line that goes back to King David through his mother, and even further back to divine pedigree in the birth narrative.  Today we will explore Mary’s Magnificent Song.  It’s the first of 4 hymns, or songs presented to us in Luke’s gospel.  Magnifat comes to us from the Latin meaning to ‘magnify’.   It is the first of four beautiful nativity hymns.  The 2nd is called the Benectus, from Zachariah’s hymn.  Zachariah’s song comes after his tongue was loosened after the birth of his son John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus. The 3rd song we have is the Gloria, angels singing in glory while shepherds are tending their flocks at night.  And in the last song is in verse 39 we have the Nunc Dimittis, “Now dismiss your servant in peace” which was spoken by the old prophet Simeon who was promised that he would not die until he had seen the salvation of Israel (and indeed the whole world!)

Magnificat – Mary’s Magnificent Poem   – “My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)

Benectus – Zechariah hymn – “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and raised up a horn of salvation.”  (Luke 1:68-79)

Gloria – Angels (we have heard) on High –  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace on those his favor rests.”     (Luke 2:14)

Nunc Dimittis– Simeon – “Now Dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”        (Luke 2:29-32)

    And so Luke has these four magnificent hymns in the first two chapters of his gospel.  It’s interesting that Luke, the consummate historian among the gospel writers who set out to record “an orderly account” of these things, understands that a poem makes people stop, think, and reflect.  You can’t read over these like you would a newspaper story, just as a tune turns over and over in our heads after we have heard and sung it.  Luke is trying to tell us something extremely important about the birth of Jesus with his poetry – “Don’t rush this!  Let it soak in… Sing a hymn, reflect on this birth” That we, like this cast of characters, should pause our lives and appreciate this transcendent event.  Poetry and music magnify the impact of the words!  Celebrate all that God is doing for the redemption of the world!

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