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Magnificat (1:46-56)

“He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant…”  It could be easy to write this off as Mary simply being humble, but she was lowly. She was a teenage mother, not yet officially wed, with an unexplained pregnancy. On top of that, she was from Galilee, more specifically Nazareth, a town that did not even appear on maps until about 100 years or so after Christ’s death. God choose to come into this situation, not to a mother with royal bloodlines, or to the wife of important roman politician, or even the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat.  Mary was, in pretty much every way imaginable, sitting on one of the lowest rungs, if not maybe the lowest rung, of the entire Roman society.

The Magnificat is something we are so familiar hearing, that it can be hard to feel what Mary is proclaiming, the amazement she must have felt to be chosen for this monumental task, her to be remembered for centuries, millennia even. This is the God found in the gospels, a God willing to place his son among the lowly, the forgotten, the disenfranchised, those with little to no power in the wider roman empire, who had little say in the direction of their future.  Think of places that God can go today.


  1. Where have you seen God work among the disenfranchised?
  2. When have you had personal Magnificat moments, when you have felt that your soul magnifies the Lord?
  3. What does this message, of God coming to the lowly Mary, mean to us as followers of Christ today? How does it inform the way we interact with the world around us?  Where is it calling us to go?

The Nativity of St John the Baptist (1:57-66)

Again I find myself running into the issue regarding the fullness of Luke’s account, or at least I wish I knew more about the context of regarding the telling of John the Baptist’s birth.  As I mentioned earlier, John the Baptist was considerably more well known than Jesus for almost the first century of the church.  John the Baptist is mentioned in non-christian histories of the time in multiple places, yet Jesus does not appear in non-christian history until much later, and even then, it is through a second hand reference to Jesus’ brother James.

So I am wondering if John the Baptist’s birth was something that was widely known, and if Luke was just highlighting well-trod ground in his account, or if he was genuinely trying to add new information to John the Baptist’s narrative, in the process given more credence to his own account of Jesus.

Think about the story of John the Baptist and when we get to the Nativity of Christ is a few days, take time to compare the two.  John’s birth spreads, Jesus’ birth goes by almost unnoticed, except for a few shepherds.  John strikes wonder into the people, those who do acknowledge Jesus, the shepherds and Simeon, they know who Jesus will be, and are in awe.


  1. How does this story add depth to the character of John the Baptist?
  2. In what ways does it set the stage for later appearances of John the Baptist?
  3. What does this story reveal about the nature of God?