Singing Along With Mary

By Leah Grundset Davis

No matter how hard I try, I cannot let go of Mary’s song in the Gospel of Luke when it comes in rotation in our lectionary each Advent.

Let’s be honest, I don’t want to take it out of rotation! It’s the song that sings the gospel truth to me. It’s one of the few texts that appears in all years of our lectionary cycle so maybe you too have preached it or heard it preached every year on the Third Sunday of Advent, that pesky Sunday of joy. 

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 sings of God’s great equalizing. That the lowly will be lifted up and the powerful knocked down from their thrones. That God will fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty. And she sings on…

A few years ago, Ravensworth Baptist Church where I serve as pastor, themed Advent “The World is About to Turn,” based on Rory Clooney’s “Canticle of the Turning.” Each week we asked hard questions like:

  • Is the world about to turn to hope, peace, joy, love?
  • What do our friends in Palestine hear as we sing during Advent? Do they wonder where our justice songs of support are the rest of the year?
  • What happens if we live into the great upheavals of which Mary sings? Those upheavals, which disrupt the powers of white supremacy, Christian nationalism, patriarchy, capitalism, and instead sing us into hope, peace, joy, and love?
  • And what if we realize that sometimes we are part of those systems that uphold everything listed above? 

Mary is still singing today through our commitments to justice, as we follow her liberating son, and through all the artists who know the power of hope even in the face of empire. 

A friend shared lines from this poem, “V’ahavta,” by Aurora Levins Morales the day after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, a verdict that was an affirmation of our country’s commitment to empire, white supremacy, and gun violence. 

Morales wrote,

“Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up,

when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning

and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts,

embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders,

teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies,

recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire:

Another world is possible.”

The poem is a call to sing of what we know to be true, that another world is possible, a call to sing like Mary did when the world was turned upside down and she boldly proclaimed the dreams of God. 

At Ravensworth on the third Sunday of Advent, we have the honor of welcoming Rev. Elijah Zehyoue, co-director of the Alliance of Baptists. We are thrilled to welcome him, to hear his song of gospel truth, and to keep singing alongside our Alliance siblings. 

This Advent season, may we all sing along with Mary so that we might see God’s creative upheavals, her liberating son’s calls to justice more clearly, and Holy Spirit’s sacred nudges along the way.

Leah Grundset Davis is pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church, Annandale, Virginia. Leah’s Doctor of Ministry project, Believe the Women: A Journey of Liberation with Alliance of Baptists’ Women was published by the Alliance of Baptists in 2019. Leah is a graduate of George W. Truett Theological  Seminary and Emory University and lives in Nokesville, Virginia.

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