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Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom


Fourth Sunday of Advent

Text:
Luke 1: 39-45 {46-55} "Special Mother-to-be share their stories"

Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Sharing Together:

Do you remember a time when you had an expectant mother in your congregation, as a neighbour, or even your near family? How did you react to her pregnancy? Did you wonder what sort of a person her child would grow up to be? What benefits did you anticipate the baby would bring to the life of your community?

A Window on the Text

Here is a story of two women meeting, both pregnant for the first time. Mary had just been visited by the angel Gabriel, and told that her child - to be named Jesus - will be called the Son of the Most High God, a king with a kingdom that will never end. Elizabeth, after a similar visit, has now been ‘expecting’ for six months. Her son is to be called John. She was told by the angel that he will be a great man, filled with the Holy Spirit and will go ahead of the Lord, like one of the prophets. Mary is young, probably early teens; Elizabeth much older, perhaps in her fifties or sixties. Both births will be miraculous. So it’s more than just an ordinary story of 2 women meeting.

We know they are related; we know Elizabeth lived some distance from Mary's home in Nazareth. It was a long way south from the region of Galilee to the hill country of Judea: at least 80 miles through the hills of Samaria - further along the Jordan valley. A long journey for Mary: no emails or phone calls to make arrangements, no public transport, so we can imagine the newly pregnant teenager having to walk for several days. Why did she go there? It was very soon after the angel had visited. She clearly wanted to meet her older relative and it’s likely this was because she had been told by Gabriel that Elizabeth was also to have a child.

Sadly, we do not know anything about the reaction of the people in the towns or synagogues to the news of their pregnancies; both women had remarkable stories to tell, but who would believe them? Each had been told by an angel who their baby would grow up to become.

Their meeting was very emotional; Mary's song of praise is one of the best known in the bible.
Responding as a community
  1. Think about the pregnant women and their families in your community. What are their needs over the coming months? Do they need any support?

  2. We cannot foretell the lives of the children in our communities. What can you do to equip them for the future?

  3. What, if anything, does Mary’s Song tell us about Mary’s role in the upbringing of Jesus and the impact her views and attitudes might have had on how Jesus regarded and treated women? (See the Kenneth Bailey quote in More Background Information)

  4. How true has the church been to the radical message contained in Mary’s Song?
Praying Together
  • Remember any newly born children in your community and their parents.

  • Remember mothers and their children in less well-off circumstances, in this country and overseas.

  • Give thanks for the health care women and children can now enjoy,
    and pray for those who give it.

  • Conclude by asking one of the women in your group to read Mary’s Song or sing the version set out below to the tune ‘Maryland’.
Going Deeper

Kenneth Bailey says that the Song of Mary “presents a woman with boundless compassion for the oppressed, along with a clear vision for the lifting of oppression. The Gentiles are not opposed, but the mighty and arrogant are. Mary is also seen as an intelligent woman who knows that God has grace for her ethnic community and for all who believe. She becomes a model for what will happen to all believers, and she is exalted from her lowly estate…the reader is led to understand that Jesus was raised by an extraordinary mother who must have had enormous influence on his attitudes toward women.” Kenneth E Bailey, 2008, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes: cultural studies in the gospels, SPCK, London, page 192.

A modern version of Mary’s Song sung to the tune Tune "Maryland" (1824)originally "The White Cockade" and also known as The Red Flag is set out below. To hear the tune go to http://www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/parton/2/redflag.html.

MARY'S SONG
Luke 1 verse 51 - 55 cf 1 Samuel 2

Join Mary's song! Sing loud and clear
of anger God is feeling
that selfish men make others poor
and legalise the stealing!
With her sing praise that he should care,
and with the wronged their burden share;
from seats of power the proud he'll tear,
and send the mighty reeling.

That God's with those who are oppressed
there can be no denying.
With those who're poor or dispossessed,
his heart has long been sighing.
But they shall have what's just and right,
when God shall break the men of might;
he'll lift the hungry to the height
and send the selfish crying.

 

 


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