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Daily Devotion – December 30, 2011
12.30.11

Ephesians  3:1-6

Paul’s Ministryto the Gentiles

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  

Reflection by Monty Wyne

Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is about acceptance and the abundance of God’s love. The Gentiles and the Jews hated one another, but Paul wanted to unite them, making them one in Christ. By becoming Christians, both groups would have a common spiritual bond, and over time and purpose develop a deeper understanding and faith in one another through Christ. The mystery that Paul refers to is that the Gentiles are fellow members of the body. They too can be saved in Jesus Christ. This was an amazing revelation in Paul’s day. 

Acceptance can be a difficult thing. It means laying aside our differences, opening our hearts and minds to beliefs and lifestyles that run counter to ours. How many times have we turned away from someone because he or she didn’t fit our idea or mold of what we thought an individual should be? Acceptance is something that has been difficult for me at times. Yet, if we all look deeper, remove the blinders that hinder us and color our perceptions, we may find a very different world on the other side. 

Prayer: 

Dear God, 

Help us look beyond ourselves.  Help us see the goodness in life and in people who are different from us.  Remind us that we are all one in Christ.  That we are all part of one race—the human race. Open our eyes and our minds to your grace and acceptance.  In His name, we pray, Amen

 



Daily Devotion – December 29, 2011
12.29.11

December 29, 2011 

Psalm 72:1-4 

Of Solomon.

1 Give the king
your justice, O God,

and your
righteousness to a king’s son.

2 May he judge
your people with righteousness,

and your poor
with justice.

3 May the
mountains yield prosperity for the people,

and the hills, in
righteousness.

4 May he defend
the cause of the poor of the people,

give deliverance
to the needy,

and crush the
oppressor.

 

Reflection by Angela Gula 

These verses of Psalm 72 were written to pray for Israel’s earthly king.  The king was seen as a mediator between God and the people.  In verses 1-4, the people pray for what is most important for any leader; that he or she rules with righteousness and that the welfare of the people, especially the poor and oppressed, come first.

 

With the difficult times our country and many other countries around the world are currently facing, our prayer for all world leaders should continue to be just like that of Psalm 72.  Pray for the poor so they may receive justice.  Pray for prosperity.  Pray for those who are oppressed.  Or perhaps we should pray that we, too, can find the strength and will to do the work of the King in our
surrounding community.

 

Prayer: 

God, King of all nations, we give you thanks for all that you have blessed us with.  Let us not forget those in your kingdom that
are poor, hungry and oppressed.  Give us the courage to fight for justice in all countries of your kingdom and urge our
nation’s leaders to do the same.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – December 28, 2011
12.28.11

December 28, 2011

 

Luke 2:27-31

Guided by the
Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child
Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his
arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in
peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you
have prepared in the presence of all peoples . . .”

Reflection by
Diane Ingram

Our local
newspaper sometimes runs photos of generations of a family. “Four generations
of the Padgett family,” the caption may read. 
And, when I look I see a bent great-grandmother holding a tiny baby,
with the baby’s smiling mother and grandmother guarding the scene.

That photo and
caption are what these verses bring to mind. Here an old man, Simeon, a man
waiting for death, has been moved by the spirit to go to the temple. It has
been revealed to him that his death will not come until he has seen the
Messiah, that person who will be the salvation of all peoples. On this day he
will see a baby boy, brought there by his parents, Mary and Joseph, as was
customary under the law.

 

Beyond the
contrast between child at the beginning of life and old man at the end of his
days, Luke has included the story to state again that Jesus is the hoped-for
Messiah, that he is recognized as such by a devout old man in the temple.  (And later in the verses by an old woman,
Anna.)

But on the human
side, the great-grandmother in our newspaper’s pages may have some of the same
feelings Simeon had that day. Or, at least the relatives who have staged the
photo hope she finds some peace in holding the baby, some recognition that
there is always promise in life.

Prayer:

Loving God, thank
you that we can see it in the faces of newborn babies –the simple, innocent
goodness that promises so much. Help us to keep that vision, to be able to
glimpse it with every person we meet, young or old.

 



A Little Christmas Liturgy… (2011)
12.26.11

Christmas Eve Meditation

The PBS news magazine, Religion and Ethics News Weekly, recently reported on a significant crime problem:  the theft of the baby Jesus from untold outdoor nativity displays.  As she reported the problem, the anchor also promised a “potential solution.”

Being a good, solid religious news show, well-versed in all matters of religion, I thought I knew what solution they would propose— don’t put the baby Jesus out until Christmas Eve!  I’m still convinced that all those Jesus thieves are secret members of the liturgical police.  They are saving the world from liturgical incorrectness!  Put the baby Jesus out when he’s supposed to come, there would be no need for the messianic thievery.

Thinking the religious world finally was getting on board with a practical solution to the mass kidnapping of baby Jesuses, I was disappointed to hear the actual solution.   “Brickhouse Security has developed a small GPS tracking device that can be attached to the baby Jesus figurine.  If someone steals it, the device alerts the owner with a text or email and the authorities can track where it went.  Brickhouse is distributing the device for free to churches and other qualifying non-profits.  The program is called “GPS Jesus.”  It can be used for Santa and Rudolph or other holiday figures as well.  But the baby Jesus seems to be the most popular among holiday thieves.”

I find this whole obsession with knowing the precise location of the baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, fascinating.  It’s like this is the one time of year when we can have a little control over where God-with-us is…God-with-us is right there, in the manger, in the stable, right there between Mary and Joseph, right where he’s supposed to be.  When the baby Jesus isn’t where he’s supposed to be, something feels incomplete, unfinished, unwhole.

Let me say that again.  When the baby Jesus—God-with-us—isn’t with us, something feels incomplete, unfinished, unwhole.  When God-with-us goes missing, it leaves a gaping hole in our lives. 

But I bring you good tidings of great joy!  We don’t need a GPS to find Jesus!  No APBs will be necessary this Christmas Eve night because God-with-us is not missing!  God-with-us is here, has been all evening—in the Scriptures read, in the songs and carols sung, in our togetherness, in the silence, in the candlelight… In fact, God-with-us shows up every time we open our eyes and our hearts to the divine presence in our lives. 

So, yes.  Go ahead..it’s okay to look—the baby Jesus is there, right where he’s supposed to be—in the manger, in the stable, right between Joseph and Mary.  But I also invite you to look around you…because God-with-us isn’t only in that tiny piece of pottery.  God-with-us is everywhere.  All we have to do is look. 

Thanks be to God!

*******
Pastoral Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for this night and for the best story of our whole Christian faith:  the one that reminds us that you loved us so much you wanted to become one of us and to come live with us in our real lives every day. 

Remind us again, God, that if your story is to continue—just like tonight—every single one of us has a role to play.  If the sad and lonely are to feel better—we have to do our part.  If the poor and homeless are to get what they need– we have to do our part.  If people are to learn about how much you love them–we have to do our part.

Help us always to do our part in the ongoing story of your love for all people, God…but most of all, God, we thank you for doing your part.  Now we join together in praying the Lord’s Prayer…

 



Daily Devotion – December 26, 2011

Isaiah 52:7-10
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’

Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

I am always puzzled by why our world has been at war since before Christ.  So, is it a law that before we experience peace, we have to go to war? Will our world ever exist without some kind of major conflict anywhere? It’s difficult to comprehend, because we are accustomed to hearing about guns and bombs and other horrible acts against humans through the media every day. Death and destruction draws more attention; with only an occasional warm and fuzzy piece in between.
I can feel the absolute joy in Isaiah’s scripture about God’s promise of salvation. Why wouldn’t the shepherds jump at the chance to view this miracle birth of the son of God? I sure would!

Just as it took centuries for God’s promise to be fulfilled; it is taking centuries for our world to achieve total peace.  Right now, there will be wars that are just beginning, and wars that will come to an end.  All we can do now is follow God’s will of being pure in heart and mind and spread the good news of his unending love.  Little by little, each one of us will inspire someone—or maybe many someones—during our lives. We mustn’t give up.

Prayer:

Help us to look beyond the destruction and focus on peace and love among nations.  Guide us to touch as many people as we can with kindness and understanding every day. Amen.



Daily Devotion – December 25, 2011

Hebrews 1:1-3
“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.  When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

He is finally here!!!
It’s here!  It’s Christmas! He is here! Christ is born today!!!! No longer must we hear God’s voice from prophets, but we hear God’s voice from God’s very son.  Christ the Lord is born and we rejoice in this birth.  This birth that is most sacred has finally taken place.  However, no sooner does Jesus turn up then his time with us is cut short.  Though short-lived, Jesus’ time on earth was an incredibly powerful time.  Because of him, the world was changed forever.  Because of him, we can choose to participate in the most joyous experience – the opportunity to participate in Christ’s love.

Feel the love of Christ pulsing through every fiber of your being and rejoice in this most holy season.

Prayer:

Dear Holy One,
Thank you for these holy days during which we rejoice in the birth of Jesus. Thank you for the countless blessings given to each and every one of us. Thank you that you are indeed sitting at the right hand of God the Father. Thank you! Lord, as we continue through this season of blessedness, be in every word we speak, every thought we think and every action we take. We give you the glory for all things. In your holy name, Amen!

 



Daily Devotion – December 24, 2011
12.24.11

“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” ~ John 1:14

Reflection by Rachel Shively

It’s here! The day we have anticipated! A baby’s birth that changed the world! Are you ready? Will you see the miracle?

I had the opportunity to see God this week in a child. As a middle school teacher, I was receiving gifts from some of my students. One of my students I know is living with economic hardships at home. However, she gave me a fun bobble pen of hers and two small pieces of candy with a sweet handwritten card. I nearly cried as she hugged me and wished me a Merry Christmas. The amount of love that she showed in that moment was overwhelming. I can only imagine what the love felt like the day Jesus was born. We are about to celebrate the miracle of pure love being born.

Journal writing: Reflect on a time someone gave you an unexpected gift. Have you ever given the gift of hope and love to someone who needed it?

Dear God,

I may not be prepared or feel that I am worthy of the gift you are about to bestow on me. Your son will remind me again of the hope and love that all babies are when they enter the world whatever the circumstances. May we learn the lessons better this year that Jesus will teach us. May we all act each other into well-being in the coming year.  Thank you, God,  for the biggest gift – Love.

In your holy name I pray, Amen.



Daily Devotion – December 23, 2011

Matthew 2:9-11

“When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand

What would you give to a new baby?  Maybe at your most recent baby shower you gave bottles, diapers, a new outfit.  What was your budget?  Now, what if that baby was the newly born savior?  What would you give Jesus?

Gold has hit a new high in the market.  Even a small amount of gold today would equal HUNDREDS of dollars.  Frankincense, a sweet incense, was used as a perfume.  Today, it costs about $3.50/ounce.  Myrrh, a bitter tasting product, is used for ointments or perfumes and also costs about $3.50/ounce.

Some historians believe that the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus could be worth over a million dollars!  I could never have afforded to bring these kinds of gifts to Jesus . . . what a baby shower that would be!  But it’s not about the gifts; it’s about the thoughts and love behind that gift, right?  As we enter this time of holiness, let us remember that bringing our hearts and our love to Jesus is all he really wants from us anyway!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for this time of year when we give gifts to our love ones.  May we remember that it’s not about how much money we spend or about where we purchased the gift, but it’s about how much we love the person we are giving the gift to.  Amen.



Memorial Service for the Homeless
12.23.11

Last night, I attended a candlelight vigil and memorial service for homeless people who died in Cobb and Cherokee Counties in 2011.  A national organization that advocates for people who are homeless encourages local communities to have memorial services on December 21 every year. 

December 21st is the longest night of the year.

Just before 5:30, I pulled into the parking lot of the Elizabeth Inn, a homeless shelter that is part of MUST Ministries in Marietta.  I found my way to a makeshift altar on a patch of asphalt on the far side of the Inn.  A table had been draped in black cloth.  Five 8” x 10” frames were arranged on the table with an unlit candle in front of each.  Three of the frames held names; the other two, pictures.  These were the five homeless people who died in Cobb and Cherokee Counties in 2011.

At one end of the table sat a thick white candle with three wicks.  I picked up a smaller candle from a basket, walked to the table, and lit my candle from one of those flames.  Or tried to.  For the next hour and 15 minutes, I worked hard to keep that flame alive.  Unusually warm for December, the air was pleasant, but the wind was persistent.  Take my eyes off the flame for even a second, it would die.

My first lesson of the evening:  flames are fragile.

My friend, Andy Peabody, was in charge of the vigil and service.  He invited us to enter into a time of silent—or at least quiet—reflection, not only for those people who died, but for all people in our area who are without stable housing.

Fighting to keep my flame alive, aware of its warmth and light–and fragility–I remembered a thought earlier in the day:  “If it rains, will they cancel the service?”  Well, of course not, silly.  What message would be sent to the homeless if we cancelled a vigil for them because of a little rain?  And then it hit me what a luxury, what an absolute luxury it is to choose to cancel something because of weather.  (…indeed, what a luxury it is to be sitting here in my recliner with a laptop on my lap listening to the rain fall outside my window.  A luxury.)  People without homes have few options when it comes to avoiding weather.

My second lesson of the evening:  I live a life of luxury.

I chose to attend the service because I wanted to experience the deep suffering caused by homelessness.  I wanted to confront the stark reality that homelessness isn’t a game, it’s not something to shove to the back of our thinking.  Jesus said that we’ll always have the poor with us, but I don’t think he meant for us to give up on them.  Because people die.  They really die.  For many people without homes, there is no happy ending.  Life is hard.  It kicks them in the teeth then turns its head when they die.   

Anyway, the best way for someone like me (a worship leader) to experience this depth of suffering is by attending a worship service and opening myself completely to the experience. 

Which is what I was doing when a woman came up to me and started chatting… asking me who I was, where I lived, talking about how it’s always windy at these December gatherings…  Okay.  I confess:  I was annoyed.  I was there to pay my respects to homeless people who had died.  Didn’t this woman have any respect for the dead?

My third lesson of the evening:  Everyone deals with grief in his or her own way…some of us by chattering our way through it; others of us by judging others for their chosen method of grief.

By the time the memorial service began, the sun had set.  The pictures and names of the deceased had become obscured by darkness.  As we gathered around the table, drawing closer together, Andy invited everyone who didn’t have a candle to get one and to let another person light it. 

By this time, I had used up two candles.  I thought I would forgo using any more.  But the invitation, though gentle, was insistent.  So, I walked back to the basket, got a third candle, and turned to a person I didn’t know to get a light.  Again, because of the wind, it took two or three times of trying before the light “took.”  Then a person came up to me to get a light from me.  Again, it took several times before the light took.  Flames are fragile.

The service began with prayer and comments made by representatives of several homeless advocacy groups.  Then the names of those who died were read.  After each name was read, the frame holding the name or photo was placed and the candle lit.  After the candle lighting, a bell sounded.

The fourth name to be read was that of a man who had been a Marine and who was a veteran.  After his name was read and the candle lit, somewhere behind me, a trumpeter played Taps.  It surprised me, that solemn sound.  I wasn’t prepared for it.  I was wide open; I was vulnerable.  I nearly lost it.    

My fourth lesson of the evening:  Homeless people are people.  They are human beings created in the image of God…people who have lives, histories, loves, and disappointments… people whose passing needs to be noticed.  People who need to be—deserve to be–honored. 

Our last act of the evening was to read a litany.  In it, those gathered promised to work for a future where everyone in our community has stable housing.  By that point, I was so devastated by the plight of the homeless and so overwhelmed by the size of the problem, I despaired of what, if anything, I could do to help ensure that anyone—much less everyone—in my community has stable housing.  

Who knows?  Maybe this blog post is a first feeble step.



Sermon: Getting to Yes (December 18, 2011)

            She said yes.  I wonder why?  A young woman, engaged, but not married, minding her own business, trying to be a good Jewish girl…then a person claiming to be an angel shows up, tells her God has chosen her, that she’s pregnant, that she’ll bear—no, really—God’s son.  “How can this be?” she asks. 

            How can this be, when it’s so far outside the box?  The women at the well are going to talk.  Joseph will be upset.  Joseph’s parents?  Ugh.  If people in town find out she’s pregnant, some might even want to stone her.  Why in the world would she say, “Let it be with me according to your word?”  Why in the world did Mary say yes?

            Saying yes to some things is easy, isn’t it?  Free Super Bowl tickets?  Yes.  A promotion at work?  Yes.  A batch of Lois’ deviled eggs made especially for you?  Oh, yes!

            But other things don’t elicit yeses quite so easily.  A position on the church Council?  Umm…  Actively working for justice in the world?  Well, I…  Welcoming an unplanned pregnancy?  You see, I… 

I wish we got a little more information between Mary’s question—“How can this be?”—and her yes—“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”   How did Mary get from “How can this be?” to “Here am I, send me?”  What process did she go through?  What convinced her to say “yes” to God?

If we knew what helped Mary get to yes, maybe that would help us get to yes, too.

Poet Michel Quoist wrestled with this very question in a poem called “I am afraid of saying, ‘yes,’ Lord.”  Maybe his struggle in getting to yes will resonate with your own.

I am afraid of saying “yes”, Lord.
Where will you take me?
I am afraid of drawing the longer straw,
I am afraid of signing my name to an unread agreement,
I am afraid of the “yes” that will entail other “yeses”.

Yet I am not at peace.
For you pursue me, besiege me.
I seek out the din for fear of hearing you,
but in a moment of silence,
you slip through.

I turn from the road,
for I have caught sight of you,
but at the end of the path,
you are there, awaiting me.
Where shall I hide?
I meet you everywhere.
Is it even possible to escape you?

I am afraid to say “yes”, Lord.
I am afraid of putting my hand in yours,
for you to hold on to it.
I am afraid of meeting your eyes,
for I know you will win me.
I am afraid of your demands.
I am hemmed in, yet I continue to hide.
I am captured, yet I continue to struggle,
and I fight, knowing that I am defeated.

For you are the stronger one, Lord,
you own the world,
and you take it from me.
When I stretch out my hand,
to catch hold of people and things,
they vanish before my eyes.

I can’t seem to keep anything for myself.
The flower I pick withers in my hands.
My laughter freezes on my lips.
Everything seems empty,
everything seems hollow.

For you have made a desert around me.
I am hungry and thirsty,
and nothing in this world seems to satisfy me.

And yet I have loved you, Lord,
I’ve worked for you; gave my whole life to you,
followed your voice in the night,
from the earliest days of my youth.
O great and terrible God,
what more do you want?
Why won’t you leave me in peace?

* * * * *

My son, I want more for you and the world,
until now, you have planned your actions,
but I have no need of them.
You have asked for my approval.
You have asked for my support.
You have wanted to interest me in your work.

But do you not see,
that you were reversing the roles?
I have watched you, I have seen your good will.
And I want more than you, now.
You will no longer do your own works,
but the will of the one who has called you,
who has whispered to you on that night,
when you were merely a child.

Say “yes”, son.
I need your “yes” as I needed Mary’s, to come to earth.
For it is I who must do your work.
It is I who must live in your family, not you.
It is I who must be in those whose lives you touch, not you.
It is I whose words they must hear, not yours.
It is I whose eyes they must look into, not yours.
It is my Word that carries weight, not yours.
It is my Life that transforms, not yours.

Give all to me, abandon all to me.
I need your “yes” to be united with you,
and to come down to earth.
I need your “yes” to continue saving the world.

 

********

O Lord, I am afraid of your demands.
But who can resist you?
That your Kingdom may come, and not mine.
That your Will may be done, and not mine.
Help me to say “yes”.

 

            Well, there you go right there!  If God came out and delivered us a poem on the spot or sent an angel or even a well-placed billboard, well, that would make getting to yes as easy as could be, wouldn’t it?  If God came to me and said, “Say ‘yes,’ daughter,” I’d probably say yes before God even finished saying the word “daughter.”

            But how do you get to yes without all the angels and auras and divine poetry?  How do you get to yes when you’re confused and afraid and just trying to live your life?  Why bother saying yes to God when life is plenty complicated enough already?

            The poet’s God said this:  I need your “yes” as I needed Mary’s, to come to earth.  I need your “yes” to continue saving the world. 

            “I need your ‘yes’ to continue saving the world?”  Oh, man.  Are we really that important to God?  What was God thinking, making us human beings so big a part of the divine action plan?  Surely, God doesn’t need us to continue saving the world!

But…well…If you think about every religious movement that’s ever happened in the world, if you think about every glimpse of the holy that human beings ever have gotten… people always seem to be hanging around, don’t they?  Abraham, Moses, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa.  In fact, it’s almost like the thing that unleashes God’s spirit and love into the world is human beings allowing themselves to be used by God.  It’s like God’s spirit and love are unleashed in the world only when human beings say “yes” to God.

            Like when Mary said yes.  Just look how much love was unleashed into the world because Mary said yes to God.  Despite her fears, despite her misgivings, despite the inconvenience, Mary said yes…and through her, God was able to do amazing things.  Through Mary, God was able to continue saving the world.

            What amazing things might happen if you say yes to God?  If you say yes to God, in what ways will God’s spirit and love get unleashed in the world?  Who’s life might change?  Hear me well.  No one’s saying you have to say yes to God.  But don’t you wonder what might happen if you do?

In the name of our God, who creates us, redeems us, sustains us, and hopes for our wholeness.  Amen.

Kimberleigh Buchanan  ©  2011

Luke 1:26-55

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. <!– 39 –>

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’ <!– 46 –>

Mary’s Song of Praise

46 And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’