I am the Lord's Servant

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Rejoice with Mary as she would rejoice with you. Be blessed, like her, with humility from God, so that you may serve joyfully and willingly wherever and in whatever role God has placed you.

After our Lord Jesus, Mary, is the most controversial figure in the history of the church. From the earliest days of the New Testament there has been a deep-rooted respect for Mary and an ardent desire to imitate her. She is depicted in art with Christ (an infant and yet God) in her womb or on her lap, gazing at him lovingly and in awe. Mary is the Mother of God and worthy of honor. She is blessed among women, highly favored. And this is all connected to Jesus, the fruit of her womb, our Savior. This the Bible makes clear.

With time this honor began to shift, however. Rather than pointing to Christ, Mary was sometimes presented in a way that distracted from him. By the Middle Ages, honoring Mary had turned into prayer and veneration. In popular piety, she became a mediator between Christians and her Son. Protestants rightly objected to this. Those objections, however, ought not lead us into the opposite ditch. Mary does have much to teach us. Most of all, she points us to her Savior and ours, as we see in her song. 

How many of us when we get something new or accomplish something big can’t help but prance like a peacock? How often are we tempted to serve more for the accolades and gratitude than the benefit of others? How often do we as a church body look for glory in numbers, good press, or some other visible sign? We all want to be members of the body of Christ, but who here seeks to be the parts that go unseen and lack glory? 

Look at Mary today, however. She’s the Mother of God. There’s only ever been one of those. She has Jesus within her in a way no one else ever has or will. And what does she do? While pregnant, she travels a great distance – by foot – in order to care for Elizabeth, her cousin, as she carries her baby, John. 

What humble women we encounter here. They’re not out advertising what’s happened. They’re not bragging to the other ladies. They’re not trying to figure out what exactly made God choose them. They’re simply encouraging each other and rejoicing together in the promises of God. 

Who besides Jesus is greater than Mary in the New Testament, and yet she never sought any role the Lord had not given her. She was content to be the single most influential person in the life of her Son, God’s Son, our Savior. And what could be more of an honor than that? 

Do you ever think about the fact that our God had parents, a mother, and a stepfather? What a wonderful calling parenthood is! What a sacred responsibility! 

Fathers, as Joseph protected and provided for this holy Child entrusted to him as a stepfather, you have a similar sacred trust and honor. Think of all the trials Joseph endured out of love for his wife and this infant God, this Child who would give Joseph new birth into eternal life. You too get to love in such a way. 

Mothers, it’s no coincidence that after Christ the most famous and cherished saint of the church is a woman, and her song is perhaps its most famous and cherished song. The apostles had important roles. They did things no one else could do, but so did Mary, and she was right there with them along the way. We see that at the foot of the cross and in the upper room. She didn’t preach like them. She didn’t go out into all the world like many of them. But what she did do was as important, and her song tells us why she did it. She loved Jesus as her son and as her God, her Savior. She loved him like no one else could, as a mother. 

As Christian men and women, our goal is not to be what we want to be, or to be what someone else is, or to be what we are told we ought not to be. Rather, like Mary, our goal is to be what God asks us to be. We say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said.”

We, like Mary, have Christ within us. He dwells in us through the Word. He came to live in us in our Baptism. In Holy Communion, he comes to us with the same body and blood that lived and grew in Mary. 

“Blessed is the who has believed that what the Lord has said will be accomplished,” Elizabeth told Mary. And we too believe, not because we deserve to, but because God has revealed it to us as he revealed it to Elisabeth and to John in the womb. 

The Greek word used for John’s leaping in the womb at Christ’s presence is no simple kicking or turning. This was leaping for joy. The Greek word even sounds like our English word “skip.” Think of the youthful, innocent skipping of a child with no troubles in the world. This is the joy of a forgiven Christian. It is a joy that sings with Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” “My soul.” “My spirit.” Not just the mouth, the head, or the pages of the hymnal, but our entire being. 

Rejoice with Mary as she would rejoice with you. Be blessed, like her, with humility from God, so that you may serve joyfully and willingly wherever and in whatever role God has placed you, but most importantly, essentially, and eternally, be blessed through “the fruit of her womb,” our Lord Jesus. As this Child and the promises about him moved her to song, let it move us to song as well, now and forever. Amen.