Joy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Gathered here this morning we have seen the joy inherent in the lighting of the pink Advent Candle and the ebullient joy pouring out of the children during this exciting time of year. We have witnessed the joy of young parents bringing their second baby to be baptized here and the joy of family joining them. At Christmastime, in the midst of cold and snow and ice there is a special sense of joy that dances around us in the lights, the trees, the delightful holidays treats, and (my favorite) the Christmas Cards that come in the mail.
Nothing however, can compare to the joy that the wonderful Mary, Mother of Jesus experienced when it fully dawned on her that she was chosen to bear a child destined to deliver all the world from darkness. She did not say “are you kidding?” or “No, no, no, I cannot do this. This just isn’t me!” Here in the Gospel of Luke she declares, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices!” I don’t know about you, but I think I might have been greatly fearful and I would probably have gotten on the phone to make an appointment with the nearest mental health professional, thinking this situation all pretty crazy.
However, that is not the space Mary is in. She is, according to this scripture, in rapture at being called to divine parenthood, but she doesn’t stop there. For Mary, this is a moment of perfect service to humanity. Her pregnancy is not just about her, her baby to be nor even her personal relationship with God. She humbles herself as an agent for God’s work in the world. Mary exclaims; “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.” These words remind me of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5: