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 forever.
— Luke 1:46-55
“My soul magnifies the Lord.” What a beautiful phrase of worship and praise. Mary is so overwhelmed by the moment, so in awe of the promise brought to her that there is nothing but praise. Awe is another great word. It means exactly what is says, “awe.” It is that sound that emerges from our very souls just because of all that is. (Think of the sound of watch fireworks. No one thinks about it, it just comes out.)
Worship is ground in the very real awareness of the very presence of God. It is about being so aware of the person of God and only God that everything else seems to drop away. The old gospel song says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, and everything false will disappear.” When we worship in spirit and truth, we proclaim that God is God, worthy, holy, and wonderful and that we are not. In that focus on God, our lives gain a right balance. We see ourselves and our world more clearly because we can understand the order of life -- there is God and there is me. God is God, and I am not.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote, “the exercise of reverence generally includes knowing your rank in the overall scheme of things.” Worship is not the work of the preacher, the musicians, and the choir. Worship is the work of the heart that knows our place. It is the magnifying of the Lord. In the words of John the Baptist, “he must increase, and I must decrease.” May it be so.
Sages, leave your contemplations,
brighter visions beam a far;
seek the great Desire of nations;
ye have seen his natal star.
Come and worship, come and worship,
worship Christ the new born King.
Great hope of the earth, may our souls magnify your name. May our songs shake the powers of injustice. May our prayers bring down tyrants. May our lives be found in the Child of Bethlehem. Amen.
Pastor Tom Greener