By Derrick Weston
And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
One of the most striking books I have read about the Advent/Christmas narratives is Kelly Nikondeha’s The First Advent in Palestine: Reversals, Resistance, and the Ongoing Complexity of Hope. It’s a stunning book that asks the readers to put themselves into the shoes of Mary and Elizabeth in an almost cinematic fashion. Nikondeha draws deep into history as well as her own experience in the Holy Land to make the birth narrative of Jesus grounded and real in a way that some may find provocative.
In the book, Mary’s song is highlighted as the act of resistance that it is.
Mary didn’t fight, she sang… Following in the footsteps of her ancestors, she composed laments, victory songs, and the range of traditional choruses in between. Songs were her work of resistance, her response to the injustice she witnessed and likely suffered
There is a stark reminder here: before we can build a new world, we have to do the work of imagining the world we want to see. The arts give us a place to express the dreams and desires for liberation that we so long for.
What would a magnificat for creation sound like? Perhaps we should sing of polluters being held to account and those who put profit over planet being made to feel shame. Perhaps we should sing of clean air and clean waters in black and brown communities that bear the undue weight of commercial waste. Perhaps we should sing of protected habitats for threatened species and a food system that works with nature instead of fighting it. Maybe what this moment requires of us is to be like Mary, casting a vision of what the world can be.
For many of us, Mary’s song is the heart of Christmas. It is a song about a grand reversal that will happen in the world. It is a song about the world being turned on its head, where the mighty are humbled and those who have been at the mercy of oppressive forces will finally know freedom. As Kelley Nikondeha puts it “Mary sings out a new social order that upends the status quo as advent begins to turn tables on those who benefit from the injustice of empires and their economies”. Perhaps the task now falls to us to sing the world we want, the one where we are in harmonious rhythm with creation, into existence.
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.