December 21, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Luke 1:51-53
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.
In the first chapter of Luke, Mary celebrates the amazing work of God, including her own experience of God’s miraculous power. Her example encourages us to recognize and celebrate God the worker.
This devotion is part of the series: Work in Light of Christmas.
In the Christmas narrative of Luke, Mary was visited by an angel who revealed that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” (1:32), even though she had not been sexually intimate with a man. Mary received this revelation by offering herself as “the servant of the Lord” (1:38). In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we reflected on how Mary’s response can inspire us. Today, we continue on in the story as it focuses on Mary.
Shortly after Mary was visited by the angel, she set off for the home of her relative Elizabeth, who was also expecting a baby of miraculous origin (though ordinary conception). When Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby “leaped in her womb” and Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was “blessed . . . among women” (Luke 1:41-42).
In response, Mary offered spoken praise to God, a personal psalm that we often refer to as the Magnificat (from the first word of this psalm in Latin, magnificat, which means “magnifies”). Mary began her praise by celebrating the blessing she had received from God. Then, she broadened her scope by noting how God had blessed so many others as well. Among these widespread blessings, God “has shown strength with his arm,” “brought down the powerful from their thrones,” and “filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:51-53). Though Mary didn’t say it exactly in this way, she celebrated God as a worker. God does works of justice and mercy, paying particular attention to those who are lowly and marginalized.
We may not be accustomed to think of God as a worker. But if we step back and reflect on the biblical narrative, we see God at work in a great variety of activities, beginning, of course, with the creation of heaven and earth. The fact that Jesus saw God the Father as a worker is clear from his statement in John 5:17: “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”
Mary’s praise of God invites us to see and to celebrate God as a worker. It encourages us to remember God’s works and reflect on them. We may begin, like Mary, by praising God for how we have been personally blessed. But Mary’s examples inspires us to broaden our perspective and to celebrate the breadth of God’s works.
In her praise of God, Mary echoes what we find in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, near the end of his life, Moses recited a song, including this verse: “The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Similarly, Psalm 103 proclaims, “The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6). The Magnificat is one more example of the people of God celebrating God as a worker. Inspired by Mary and those who went before her, we are encouraged to do the same.
If you were to celebrate God’s “mighty deeds” in your life, what would you say?
Do you think of God as a worker? Why or why not?
How is God at work around, in, and through you?
In Mary’s song, God works by filling the hungry with good things. In this season of Advent, with Christmas approaching, perhaps you can contribute in some way to feeding the hungry. You may be able to serve in a local soup kitchen. Or you can donate to an organization that fights hunger, such as World Vision.
Gracious God, indeed you have performed mighty deeds throughout creation and throughout history. Thank you for your works. Thank you for being a worker.
I praise you, Lord, for how you have blessed me personally, for your mighty deeds in my life. In particular, this day I praise you for . . . [add your personal praise here].
I also praise you today because you work “vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.” You scatter the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. You lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things. Help me, Lord, to join you in your work of justice and mercy.
My soul glorifies you today, Lord. My spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. Amen.
Banner image by Kadarius Seegars on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Advent Reflection: The Magnificat.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.