I realize the Christmas season has past, but this morning I was reading from Luke and was struck by Mary’s song of response after being blessed by Elizabeth (1:39-56). What impressed me most was how in this time of immense change in Mary’s life, where the course of her life has been drastically altered, she finds solace in reciting a story – the story of God’s faithfulness:
And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
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 has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
Stories form who we are, both positively and negatively, depending on which story we choose to inform our identity. For Mary, it is the reminder of God’s faithfulness not just to her, but throughout
Too often, Christians limit the story-forming experience only to their own personal lives, basing the testimony of God’s faithfulness on personal well-being. But what happens when personal well-being is an elusive reality for extended periods of time? What happens when certain situations place you on the fringes of your community and completely alone, which is exactly what happened to Mary? This is where I believe we need a story that is bigger than ourselves, something that Mary rightly realizes.
In my view, what makes the Christian life an intelligible possibility that can make sense of challenges we face, requires us to constantly be reminded of the story of God’s faithfulness – shown in the stories of Israel, exemplified in the entire ministry of Jesus, and continued through the presence of the Spirit in our lives and communities.