Part of Kristen’s and my annual Christmas tradition is to watch The Nativity Story with Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Isaac as Joseph which was released in 2006. We highly recommend it to you. If you can, turn off your cell phones and turn the lights down low and try to enter into the life of Mary and Joseph and their families. They were poor, hardworking farmers and carpenters under the oppression of Rome and the evil Governor Herod. The contrast of their humility and reverence for God versus the power and pride of Herod and Rome is dramatically portrayed and you can find yourself identifying with their fears and hopelessness and yet be greatly encouraged by their faith and humble obedience. The movie ends powerfully with Mary quoting portions of what is called the Magnificat from the gospel of Luke (1:46-55) with the music of Silent Night playing in the background as they journey to Egypt filled with faith, worship and witness for Jesus Christ. (*See note at end of letter.) Here is an abbreviated version of the movie (about 16 minutes) ending with Mary quoting part of the Magnificat (at 14:10 minutes).
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
This is both a rehearsal of God’s past faithfulness to Israel as well as a prophecy of the complete fulfillment of all His promises to Israel in the millennial kingdom. (Isaiah 2:2-3, 29:22-24; Joel 3:20; Amos 9:14-15; Micah 4:1-2) And it includes these promises for all of Abraham’s spiritual seed as well (for all born-again Christians. v. 50; also see Galatians 3:7).
“It is in the third strophe of the hymn that Mary’s feeling seems to attain its highest point of elevation. She has already referred in tender, solemn, and reserved language to the great things which God has done for her. And now she is, as it were, looking out across the centuries at the mighty religious revolution which would date from the appearance of her Divine Son on the scene of human history. She uses past tenses, because she reads off what she sees intuitively, as if it were already history. The “proud,” the “mighty,” the “rich” of the Incarnation hymn are always here; to be scattered by the arm of God; to be put down from their thrones; to be sent empty away. This is true in the private and spiritual, as well as in the political and public sphere. And the question arises, why is it true? Why is there this intrinsic antagonism between the revelation of God on the one hand, and so much that is characteristic of human nature and energy on the other? The answer is, that Christianity presupposes in man the existence of an immense want, which it undertakes to satisfy; and further, that this want is so serious and imperative, that all honest natures must crave for its satisfaction. Happy they who in this world experience the sentence of the Magnificat; in whom pride and self-reliance is put down from its seat, and spiritual hunger is rewarded.” http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/liddon/the_prophecy_of_the_magnificat.htm
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:3-6)
My overarching feeling at the end of the movie as the poor and humble Mary sings high praises to God, is one of great trust and confidence in our Lord and His goodness and involvement in our lives to make all things right for those who choose to trust and follow Him. Of course this ultimately points us to heaven but we, like Mary, can and should have this great confidence in Him now. As Paul says, “What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us? He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) Or as one kid said to the other kid, My Daddy is bigger than your Daddy. Our good and kind and yet all-powerful God wins and we win with Him. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich – 1342-1416)
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. (Revelation 21:1-6)
“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
Len and Kristen
*Like most Christmas cards and Christmas movies the writers take liberty with Scripture as they show the Magi coming to the stable to worship the new-born Jesus. But we see in the Scriptures that they came to Jesus later when he was in a house with Mary and Joseph. (See Matthew 2:1-12)