Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/22/2022: Luke 1:46-55

Today please be in prayer for

Eddyville Grace UMC
Miller, NE UMC
Oconto UMC
Gateway District
Minden UMC
Gateway District
Greeley, NE UMC
North Loup UMC
Scotia First UMC
Gateway District
Ord First UMC
Sargent: First UMC
Gateway District

Today's Lectionary Text

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowly state 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;
indeed, 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 imagination 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 come to the aid of his child Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Today's Devotional

When is a Psalm not in the Book of Psalms? When does a prophet speak not in prophecy but in song? When Miriam sings, when Hannah sings, when Mary magnifies the Lord. I think it’s good to spend a bit of time in our trajectory toward Christmas in Luke 1. The drama of Luke’s nativity story is illuminated by the prenatal stories of Elizabeth and Mary. Why? Because these passages cannot be disarmed and sentimentalized like the nativity story. It makes that Christmas Eve story all the more powerful.

We have been having a running lighthearted conversation in church about when to sing Christmas songs in worship. You may be fielding or lodging the same comments in your church and setting. I am not one to say, “We cannot sing any Christmas songs until Christmas Eve.” But, I want the music to go along with the scriptures and the message of the day. Two weeks ago, we sang “Joy to the World.” Then I told everyone that since Isaac Watts didn’t celebrate or approve of Christmas celebrations, it wasn’t a Christmas song. This week, when we sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” there was a collective and almost audible sigh of relief when I didn’t deny its status as a Christmas song.

I realize I was wrong about “Joy to the World.” Our adoption of it as a Christmas song is completely appropriate because it announces Christ coming into our hearts and our magnification of the Lord. We get caught up in the true meanings of Christmas, in the authenticity of the nativity descriptions, the propriety of keeping a holy advent, in the timing of our Christmas singing and celebration. We sweat the small stuff way too much.

We can reach back to Luke 1 if we want to reclaim a deeper meaning of Christmas. The one who comes is not simply the sweet baby asleep in the hay, but in the one who scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts. The one who lifted the lowly, brought down the powerful, filled the hungry and sent the rich away empty. Christmas is a time of radical new beginnings for us and for God’s creation.

Whatever meaning we attach to Christmas, whether it is a time of reunion and reconnection, a time of reverence, a time of nostalgia and tradition, we should also take a cue from Mary and magnify the Lord.
-- Rev. Daniel Norwood
Hiawatha First UMC

Prayer for Reflection

Dear Lord, this Christmas let us remember the radical new beginnings promised by the arrival of Your son. Amen.


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