The Lord Has Done Great Things
St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord
15 August 2017
Today is the traditional death day of Mary, the mother of our Lord. The church remembers her as that vessel in which our Lord took human flesh, and for that reason commemorates her as blessed among women. Mary gives us one of the great songs of the church, the Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Lk 1:46). In it she extols God's way of lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things. Her humble acceptance of God's will in her life is paradigmatic for the church and all her children. Whatever good is accomplished in us is accomplished by God. The church is but the vessel of the coming Lord whose work she does.
Though she is a blessed person Mary is described by Luther as still carrying out her vocation as housewife. She may be the throne of God and yet will still stoop to milk the cow. She may be filled up with good things by God, but still cooks the meals. She may have within her the One who would cleanse Israel from its sins, but still she washes the dishes. God has exalted her lowly tasks by sending her His Son to be conceived in her.
Her exaltation is not her own doing. Her work is God's and so God gets all the glory, her soul magnifying the Lord. So it is for us, Christ is conceived in us by faith and this exalts all the tasks of our mundane life: taking out the garbage, bathing the kids, and making the meals. For the Lord has done great things for us and holy is His name!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther

"Mary adds, 'And holy is His name' (Lk 1:49). That is to say: 'As I lay no claim to the work, neither do I to the name and fame. For the name and fame belong to Him alone who does the work. It is not proper that one should do the work and another have the fame and take the glory. I am but the workshop in which He performs His work. I had nothing to do with the work itself. No one should praise me or give me the glory for becoming the Mother of God, but God alone and His work are to be honored and praised in me. It is enough to congratulate me and call me blessed, because God used me and did His works in me.'
"Behold, how completely she traces all to God, lays claim to no works, no honor, no fame. She conducts herself as before, when she still had nothing of all this. She demands no higher honors than before. She is not puffed up, does not vaunt herself or proclaim with a loud voice that she is become the Mother of God. She does not seek any glory, but goes about her usual household duties, milking the cows, cooking the meals, washing pots and kettles, sweeping out the rooms, and performing the work of maidservant or housemother in lowly and despised tasks, as though she cared nothing for such great gifts and graces. She was esteemed among other women and her neighbors no more highly than before, nor desired to be, but remained a poor townswoman, one of the great multitude. Oh, how simple and pure a heart was hers, how strange a soul was this! What great things are hidden here under this lowly exterior!" 

Martin Luther,
Commentary on the Magnificat, 1.49

Luke 1:46-55
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."   (ESV)
Grant, we humbly pray, O Lord, to your servants the gift of Your heavenly blessing that, as the Son of the Virgin Mary has granted us salvation, we may daily grow in Your favor; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For the family of Jill Stoneburner, whom our Lord Jesus Christ called to see Him face-to-face, that they would be encouraged by the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come promised by Jesus
For all those who despise lowly service to others, that they might find in such service an opportunity to serve Christ
For all those who are suffering, that the Lord Jesus would exalt them in the holy faith
For the staff and students of Memorial Lutheran School, that they would be strengthened as they begin the tasks of teaching and learning
Art: VOUET, Simon  Annunciation  (1640s)
Memorial Lutheran Church
©  Scott Murray 2017