One could argue that Mary’s Magnificat, the song she sings upon seeing her cousin Elizabeth, functions in the same way that Elsa’s song “Let It Go” does in Frozen. Elsa is free not just of the constant pressure to be someone else, but in being herself, creates a new world where those on the margins (those who thrive in winter) are welcome for their gifts. Mary doesn’t just sing “my soul magnifies the Lord,” she sings “God has scattered the proud-hearted… God has pulled down the powerful from their thrones… sent the rich away empty.” Let it go, she sings, all those repressive forces are gone. This is a moment of coming in to her own because she’s free of what held her back.
Think of the Magnificat as a Disney-like musical montage in which Gaston falls to his death; Jafar is banished to a tiny lamp in the desert; Yzma is turned into a kitten. It’s not just that evil is defeated, but the evil embedded in governing structures–the governing structures themselves–are eliminated. (Of course, Disney never dismantles capitalism in their films, but one can dream.) Mary rejoices in the dismantling of the existing system: #wearethe99percent. She rejoices in every member of congress suddenly resigning; in the Pope’s conciliatory shift toward women religious in North America; in JP Morgan dissolving their assets and paying off Greece’s debt and end austerity measures. (If you’re in some kind of mood, you might hear Mary sing “My soul magnifies the Lord… fuck the police.” If she’s not singing it now, she’ll very well be singing it by the time her son is a victim of state-sponsored terrorism.) Mary is revolutionary.
This week, I did a guest post over at the Advent: Healing and Hope devotions. It’s a collaborative effort of mostly Mennonites to create an Advent devotional that emphasizes God’s embrace of outsiders and healing of the heartsick. I posted a poem, a meditation on the Magnificat, and Pastor Megan Ramer posted a reflection that, with much less metaphor than I used, says exactly what I wanted to say about Mary.
The Magnificat is a revolutionary piece of music for a revolutionary God. That salvation is not just a personal transformation, but a transformation of all the expectations that rule our interactions. Hey: people whose talent is turning everything into ice–you’re welcome in the church. Hey you with depression, you are too heartsick to be in church today, you who are still struggling, you who are still not and will never be perfect. Hey you: those bullies who police your identity–God ain’t got time for that. Let’s clean up that mess, turn our fears into kittens, and go on with the joy of a poor baby in a city that is on many days wracked with violence, let us go on with the joy of watching this baby, sleeping peacefully.
As I wrote the Magnificat, it was not just a reflection of the text but of the ways God has incarnated into our congregation in this year. So I was a little nervous. To share our struggles this year. And to read out loud on Sunday morning an embrace of many who we have not been very good at welcoming. It’s a challenge, in some ways: in the next year until we celebrate our incarnate God again, let’s do a little bit better at welcoming the people on the margins of our faith.