To Push Out Hope
Luke 1:46-55

Mary praises God for a pregnancy in which she had no agency. How can she say no to God? How can she not be angry with God? And how can she find hope in the action of giving birth and having a life-altering responsibility, all of which was a complete surprise? Mary didn’t have agency over her pregnancy, but she did in her reaction to it. Historically, her only option was to endure the pain of childbirth. This was now her new reality, and she appeared to have accepted it in the most fascinating way.

The Magnificat reminds me of a few older church folk I’ve known. You may be familiar with the type – elders who through the trials and tribulations of life are so seasoned to the spiritual cycles of death and resurrection that their faith has been cured into an unshakeable hope. At this moment in history, given the results of a historic presidential election, it is clear that we have been taken by surprise by the depth of discord and chaos that has clearly been pregnant in our society for far too long. With pregnancy, a birth must soon follow. We no longer have agency over what has passed, but we do have agency in how we react.

Mary’s gratitude for God’s grace and justice clearly leads her to proclaim an assurance of hope based on encounters with The Divine that have occurred personally and throughout Jewish history. Mary’s history is our history. The question is: Can we get to a point of clarity and gratitude – in the midst of our suffering – that allows us to see that we are given a choice to birth a very specific, magnifying hope in the world, instead of perpetuating chaos?

Annanda Barclay serves at First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto. She obtained her M.Div. at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is a Co-Moderator of the More Light Presbyterian Church.

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