You can’t read the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel today without being captured by the tremendous sense of joy he conveys. Luke’s opening scenes reveal the kind of response that the coming of the Messiah is meant to elicit. Men and women, young and old, are caught up in the extraordinary good news of what God is doing. Elizabeth and Mary, Zechariah and the shepherds, Simeon and Anna all participate in the celebration.
It is Mary’s song that has been given special place over the centuries for the way in which it communicates this joy. Many a composer has tried his or her hand at setting this text to music. The song testifies that God takes action on behalf of those who have been marginalized, a message that reverberated throughout the prophets we recently read. With the coming of the Christ child, there is a world inversion taking place. No longer will those who have been outcast, unwanted, or unloved have no place. They are all welcome in this new kingdom that is inbreaking.
Here we see that the song and the singer are a perfect match–God has chosen an unmarried, teenage girl to be the bearer of this child who comes to save the world. It is the perfect beginning to the gospel that will remind us over and over again of God’s surprising ways that bring joy to the brokenhearted.