Strength and Humility at Christmas

One of my favorite holiday memories growing up was listening to my mother and father lead Holden Evening Prayer on Wednesday nights. This musical prayer service is a favorite in Lutheran churches across the United States. It details the time leading up to Jesus’s birth, using scripture from the Gospel of Luke.

I remember how my parents’ voices sounded, and how I felt when my mother sang the words Mary spoke when she found out she was to give birth to God’s son. I didn’t understand it at the time, but hearing my own mother lead worship using the words of Jesus’s mother spoke had a profound impact on me.

I can still hear her voice, singing Mary’s song of praise,

“My soul proclaims your greatness, oh God,
and my spirit rejoices in you.
You have looked with love
on your servant here
and blessed me all my life through.
Strong is your kindness, evermore.
How you favor the weak and lowly one,
humbling the proud of heart.”

In one verse, Mary speaks of her joyful, humble acceptance of God’s plan for her; in the next she speaks of God’s fierce commitment to justice:

“You have cast the mighty
down from their thrones,
and uplifted the humble of heart,
you have filled the hungry
with wondrous things
and left the wealthy no part.”

God’s entrance into the world is at odds with our earthly view of what power should be. At Christmas, Jesus is both incredibly powerful and extremely vulnerable. Two ideas that logically don’t make sense to us are perfectly paired in our God.

It’s a concept that makes more sense to people who know Mosaic’s ministry. The people we support are both powerful and vulnerable. They volunteer, work, pray, laugh and sing. They often also need a helping hand.

As we hear the Christmas story this week, may we all embrace Mary’s vision of strength and humility, and delight in God’s love and care for all people.

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