The Holiday season is not a season of joy for everyone; in fact, for many people it is one of the loneliest, saddest times of the year.
In the advent journey this is the week for Joy. Joy is not only a feeling or an idea, joy is something that is grounded in something beyond ourselves and our circumstances. Joy is a divine gift and a promise to all of creation, and joy is also something we co-create and nurture with God and with others. Yes, joy is both individual and communal. Joy is a reality that we can hope for because of God’s love, solidarity, and care for each one of us and for the whole world.
If we pay close attention to Mary’s story during and after the time of the annunciation, we are able to see her in all her humanity. Mary allowed herself to feel the fear, the burden of that pregnancy, she voiced her questions, her doubts; a lot was asked from her and the consequences were a matter of life and death in her world. And Mary chose to say yes; she found in herself the courage to say yes to become the bearer of Divine Love made flesh.
Mary’s song, known as the Magnificat, is a song of joy that proclaims a shared journey with God. It is a song rooted not only in Mary’s own story but also rooted in the story and spiritual journey of her people. Mary’s song is a vision of Shalom—a state of wholeness, restitution, healing, and harmony of all of creation.
The previous verses to the Magnificat offer us an important detail about the context of where Mary’s song finds voice and expression: it is in community, with a companion who becomes a witness to Mary’s proclamation: Elizabeth, her cousin.
Mary’s joy, power, and self- confidence came from a source beyond herself; they were rooted in her faith, her history, and her journeying with others. Mary teaches us to move through the world honoring the wholeness of our personal and communal journey, honoring our fears, our doubts, our grief, and our losses, and connecting with the sources of our hope and joy and creating ways to nourish them every day.
Mary reminds us to connect with our ancestors, with our story, and with companions along the journey who are willing to listen, to affirm, and to imagine with us a life filled with blessing, with wholeness for ourselves, for each other, and for all creation.
May Mother Mary’s story help you to find your own song of healing, liberation, and joy during this season and always.
Rev. Nancy Rosas
Rev. Nancy Rosas (she/her/hers) is the Pastor of Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged) for mental health spiritual community in Buffalo, NY. She encourages and nurtures her sense of joy and resilience through the practices of yoga and meditation, photography, gardening, writing, and being outdoors on a regular basis.