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God worked through someone the world was shutting out

November 29, 2022

Daily Scripture

Luke 1:46-53

46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47 In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49 because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52 He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

When Mary sang that God “has lifted up the lowly,” she was singing her story. She lived in a culture which treated her like Coach Comet treated Rudolph: “From now on, we won’t let Rudolph join in any reindeer games.” * She never expected any male leader of her day (let alone an angel) to greet her, an impoverished woman living in an obscure village, as “favored one” (Luke 1:28). She marveled at God’s inversion of human values: “He has pulled the powerful down…and lifted up the lowly.”

  • Mary began her song with words of gratitude and praise: “With all my heart I glorify the Lord.” As we move through this season remembering the profound spiritual meanings of the Christmas event, who and what in your life are you thankful for? Which of the gifts and promises of Christmas most lead you to glorify the Lord with all your heart?
  • Mary rejoiced that her child would be a divine force to bring justice to an unjust world. She echoed the song of Hannah (another “miracle mother,” in 1 Samuel 2:1-10), sure that God was for all people, even the poor and oppressed. She trusted that, in Jesus, God would care for the lowly, hungry, and exploited. In what ways (not just financial) are you “rich”? Are you willing to use your God-given gifts to lift the burdens of those who are lowly in parts of life where you are strong?

Lord, there’s still so much suffering and injustice in our world. Teach me how to sing “With all my heart I glorify the Lord,” not to deny the darkness, but to defy and challenge it in your power. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

I honestly don’t know how things were in Kansas high schools, but I went to high school in small-town Florida, where we had a few interesting stories. For instance, when I was in 10th grade, a vampire cult from the next town over made front-page national headlines for murdering a bunch of people. That was not the scandal of a lifetime that rocked our community, that was just 1oth grade. So more mundane problems, like teenage pregnancy and the occasional arrest, weren’t really news. That said, they happened in our area quite a bit. A friend of mine in a nearby town had so many teenage mothers at her high school that they actually opened a daycare on campus so the teenagers could finish school.

At the time, I went to a very conservative Evangelical church, and everyone there was well aware of the teenage pregnancy problem. “Some of these kids…” congregants would say in hushed whispers, to talk about the depravity of “the world”—these teenage mothers became a symbol for everything wrong with the youth of America. I’m somewhere in-between Gen X and the Millennials, so I caught the worst of what people said about both groups, and let me tell you, people did not have any faith in us.

We talk about Mary’s world as if unwed teenage mothers are treated much better in our society. To be fair, nobody at my high school was stoned to death for getting pregnant. But I can’t imagine the scolding and shame I’d get for even suggesting that one of these “misguided youth” could teach the people at my church something about God. Unwed teenage mothers, and many other of the “outsiders” to our church, were not people; they were charity cases, and were only to be helped when it led them to reconsider their actions and become more godly.

Growing up watching Rudolph Christmas specials, I always saw myself in Rudolph. I thought about all the times I’d been excluded unfairly, waiting desperately for that moment of vindication from an authority figure where I’d finally be able to join my peers. Watching it that way didn’t prepare me for the times in my life when I’d be a lot more like Comet, or any of the other reindeers who pushed Rudolph aside for shallow reasons. I don’t think that’s a fault of the movies, it’s just that I didn’t spend a lot of time looking for that message.

It’s no mistake that God chose to bring Jesus into the world through an unwed teenage mother—a group that is still today looked down on and thought mostly as a group to change into something more fitting of our image, rather than beautiful children of God. And there are countless other acts that too often force people out of churches: being gay or trans, having an abortion, being a criminal, or any other countless things that we don’t like to think about in polite society.

This Christmas season, I hope you all are loved and accepted as Rudolph was at the end of the story, but also be on the lookout for other Rudolphs—particularly those that the Christian church likes to shun and exclude from reindeer games. There are times when we’re Rudolph, and there are times when we’re the other reindeer, but we need to be looking for times when we’re Santa, not just stopping the other reindeer from making fun of Rudolph, but inviting that rejected reindeer to be a leader in our community.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Quotes.” STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 21 Nov. 2022.,_the_red-nosed_reindeer_quotes_9778.