“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
In her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeline L’Engle explores the idea that making art is a form of faith. In the first chapter, L’Engle suggests that creative ideas come to artists in the same way the angel Gabriel came to Mary — that the artist or writer can reject such invitations or respond with Mary’s yes.
Mary’s song of praise in the verses following the Annunciation emerged from that yes. Gabriel came to Mary with a calling that she could only comprehend in part — one that would alter her whole life and interrupt all her plans. Mary responded to that enormity and the unknown with faith over fear and with wonder. Her trust in the Lord was not a feeling but a choice. Soon after, she saw miracles visiting her cousin Elizabeth, and, caught up in awe, Mary expressed a song of praise laced with revelations of God’s character. Perhaps her song’s enumeration summarized years of witnessing God’s faithfulness. Perhaps she sang in a holy spontaneity, receiving the revelations herself as they poured from the gate of her lips.
Regardless, Mary’s willingness to accept God’s invitation blossomed into a joy so powerful that she could only express it in song. L’Engle makes me wonder how many moments of our lives are tiny annunciations. Whether for a creative work or other venture, how often does God’s Spirit stir our hearts to partner with him? When the cry of our hearts is a faith-filled yes to those invitations — regardless of their scope, regardless of the anxiety we may feel at their cost — I suspect we will overflow in gratitude and praise, like Mary, and sing, “Our souls magnify the Lord.”
Michael Brooks is an adjunct professor of English at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.