Advent Devotional: Dec. 21, 2019

Liberation Theology

by Alys Willman
December 21, 2019

Luke 1: 46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. 
From this day all generations will call me blessed: 
the Almighty has done great things for me, 
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation. 
He has shown the strength of his arm, 
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, 
and has lifted up the lowly. 
He has filled the hungry with good things, 
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy, 
the promise he made to our fathers, 
to Abraham and his children forever.

When I read this passage, I desperately want to identify with Mary. I want to imagine myself as spunky, revolutionary handmaid, chosen by God to raise a child who will fulfil the promise of liberation made to her ancestors. 

And yet, I know better. During the five years I lived in Central America, I was privileged to spend time with Christian Base Communities, who taught me about Liberation Theology. That meant, in the words of Ernesto Cardenal “reading the gospel through Third-world eyes,” and understanding my own social location in the scriptures. 

In today’s world, I am not Mary. I am not a lowly handmaid; I am on the top of the socioeconomic ladder. When I read her words, I know I will not be lifted up with her. I can expect to be cast down, scattered in my conceit, sent away empty.

Do I have the courage to see this reality, and work to build God’s kingdom all the same? Can I see my liberation as bound up in the liberation of those who are marginalized today? 

Prayer: Loving God, as I await your birth, bring me low again. Scatter me in my conceit as you bring justice to the world and liberate us all. 

Advent Devotional: Dec. 16, 2019

The Example of Mary

by Edwina Biron
December 16, 2019

Read Luke 1:46-55
Luke 1:46-47 
“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

I was raised in Waycross, Georgia and attended Waycross First United Methodist Church my whole life until I moved away for college. I always sang in the choir. My earliest memory is when I was 5 years old and sang “Away in a Manger” very loudly, apparently. When I was a teenager, I was Mary in a Christmas music pageant, and I still remember the song I sang: 

“Sleep my child, dear baby Jesus. 
Sweet scented hay, a pillow for your head. 
Even now, as you lie sleeping, 
Angels watching, keep by your bed.” 

During those years growing up in the church, there were many times when I didn’t want to do what was asked of me by the adults at church, such as reading scripture or a prayer during worship, or singing a solo. It seemed so difficult. I think about the huge responsibility God asked of Mary and how she accepted it so willingly and graciously, for she said she was a servant of God. Even now as an adult, my daily life can overwhelm me and stress me out such that I forget that I am a servant of God. During Advent, Mary’s Magnificat reminds me that I should rejoice and reflect the love of God to others in everything I do. 

Prayer: O God, keep us mindful of your steadfast love and generous spirit. Help us follow the example of Mary, who was faithful to you and brought into this world, your ultimate gift of love, Jesus Christ. Amen.