December 2017

The common experience for most of us on Christmas Day afternoon will be the feeling of being absolutely full. Normally Monday lunchtime might be a sandwich and coffee or a warming bowl of soup. Instead we will probably have followed our family traditions and wolfed down an unbelievable array of snacks, canapés, starters and a main course featuring roast turkey with all the trimmings. Around us there will be an array of newly opened presents with others still wrapped under the Christmas tree awaiting the arrival of family or friends on Boxing Day. And yet this all too common occurrence is a million miles away from the experience of Mary, commended in Scripture in Luke 1:46-56. It should at the very least make us pause for thought and perhaps even re-shape the way we plan our Christmas celebrations.

At the heart of Mary’s song (known to some of us with an Anglican heritage as the Magnificat) is the amazing reversal of fortunes which the Lord typically brings about. The people he brings down are those who are the proud, the rulers and the rich (see Luke 1:51, 52, 53). That in itself makes challenging reading for many of us in Sevenoaks with our prosperous and comfortable lives. So often our success, power and wealth desensitises us not only in terms of the needs of our soul but also to the needs of those around us. The very things which the world sees as marks of success contain real spiritual danger.

In complete contrast the people who are lifted up are the humble and the hungry (see Luke 1:52, 53). These are the qualities which are most attractive in the eyes of the Lord and which Mary has glimpsed through her own involvement in God’s great plan for salvation. We therefore need to think through how we can be those who are both humble and hungry before the Lord. Walking closely with the Lord and being more sensitive to our sin and our need for the grace of forgiveness will keep us humble – it will reveal that we have nothing to be proud about before a holy God. Seeking to know the Lord better, recognising our spiritual emptiness and poverty will keep us spiritually hungry – it will reveal that only the Lord can fully satisfy us both now and into eternity.

So, as we approach Christmas let us be wary of the spiritual dangers which come with prosperity, fullness and over-indulgence. Instead let us learn from Mary and seek, like her, to be both humble and hungry, in order to know His blessing and be a blessing to those around us.

Angus MacLeay

December 2017