1:46b “My soul magnifies the Lord,
1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from
now on all generations will call me blessed;
1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
1:51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the
thoughts of their hearts.
1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the
1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
The Magnificat is the canticle Mary sings/proclaims when she is visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is also pregnant with John the Baptist. For me this song is the cry of liberation for the oppressed. It is the proclamation of a messianic birth, in which we are all invited to take part not only as witnesses but as fellow children of G-d.
This Advent I hope you mediate on the questions asked of this poem. I hear the Magnificat and go back to the book of Genesis to the Garden of Eden where our creation myth began. I think of Mary’s song whaling in the air. Back to when Adam and Eve plucked from the fruit of the Tree of Life. Back to the origin of human beings violating sustainable relationship with God’s creation. A creation, this planet, this rock, this earth, hurling through space that has always been a paradise.
I think of the cost of touching and consuming life that was never meant for us to take. The cost of not living into God’s abundance and to thinking we have dominion over anything as if all that we know and have isn’t a gift designed for us to enjoy. As Mary sings, she speaks of the liberating new way of life that has come to draw us back into sustainable relationship, or love, with all of God’s creation. So, I ask… what are your expectations of a messiah in this world broken by human design? Are you willing to do the difficult, yes even hard spiritual and emotional work of dealing with the things you don’t want to see or hear about yourself and society? Or do you wish for a bubble gum Christ, swaddled and cute in a manger, filled with a hollow gospel and theology but gives you temporary comfort? Indeed, Mary’s song is a choice to be birthed alongside our brother, Jesus or to remain asleep as G-d continues to do, what G-d has come to do.
There are disappointments that linger
In this world filled with expectations and potential
That name delicate ways in which life is sustained.
There is real poverty in otherness
There is practical comfort in wealth
Such obvious barriers
Smothered in sins of loathing and entitlement.
what are your expectations for the messiah?
what is required of you to walk this new path of liberation?
when you pray at night, who is your God?
Black inquiring minds would like to know.
Over 1 billion christians on this planet.
who is their god?
As fruits from the Tree of Life
Are regularly harvested
The Great Illusion is repeated
We reject paradise given as birthright
Is our body’s name.
it is a miracle your throat is not raw.
it is a miracle your praise has not ceased.
your stubborn lips know your first son’s teachings.
We too are the fruits of your womb
Rev. Annanda Barclay currently serves as a pastor of Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, and Student Chaplain in the Spiritual Care Services Department of Stanford Healthcare. Her call these days has primarily focused on queer, afro-futurist, womanist, theological and biblical spiritual lens that can be applied to the public theology of the technology sector. Particularly the spiritual and emotional healing that is needed in STEM, in design concepts of big data, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies. She enjoys pilgriming about life, nerding out on eco-housing, going to concerts, film, food, and finding the Divine in the outdoors, strangers, friends, family, and her beloved dog Wes.