March 6

Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love. Psalm 31:16 

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Luke 1:46-48

Two verses from those who consider themselves “servants” of their Lord. In Psalms, David is in distress, once again looking to God to save him from his problems and his enemies. Mary seems to be reacting to a much happier situation, one where she is with Elizabeth who has just told her that she will be blessed as God has entrusted her with His son. She sings the song we call the “Magnificat” in her gratitude. She might have been a little worried too, since she was very young, unmarried and now pregnant.

So what does it mean to be a servant? How are David, a king of Israel, and Mary, a lowly peasant both thinking of themselves as servants? In both cases it would seem it has something to do with what God has done for them, and also what He has done for us. In the Psalm God is described as having steadfast love; no matter what the enemies of David might try to do, God is there for Him, saving Him.

Mary in her song praises God for lifting up the less powerful, and bringing down the powerful. She sings of a God whose saving work begins right here on earth, not only in some far off heaven. Her Son, God’s Son, will fill the hungry with food and hope. Beyond comforting the lowly, Mary’s Lord will lift them up where they too can be regarded with honor. From a commentary by Judith Jones, “Mary’s song magnifies the Savior who loves the whole world with a love that makes creation whole. God’s saving judgment is for all of us, bringing us down from the pride that fills us with ourselves until we can’t see either God or neighbor, bringing us up from the shame that distorts our worldview and convinces us that no one – not even God – could love.

As we enter the season of Lent we stop and take time to contemplate our lives, our sins and what Jesus did for us. Some choose to “give something up for Lent.” This might be a good idea, give up the extra desserts, or soda pop, social media or snacking. We could also add something during this season, perhaps volunteering to help those in need; we could try actually being a servant. Then as Mary and David did, we can praise the Lord and rejoice in His saving love and grace.

Loving and steadfast God, today we remember that from dust we came, and to dust we shall return. On this day and every day, help us look to you and embrace every day as precious. Lift us up out of our lowliness and shine your face upon us. We pray that our spirits will rest in you, and that our lives will magnify your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Chris Gabel