Nothing New

December 4, 2012

Excerpt from 1 Samuel 2:1-10

"Hannah prayed and said, the Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. She raises up the poor from the dust; she lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world.'"

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

Something you probably already know: after Mary found out she was pregnant, she sang the revolutionary song we know as the Magnificat.

Something you might not know: she didn't make it up.  Hannah sang it first, way back when she found out she was pregnant with Samuel.  Much later, Mary did her own cover of the song.

How it got from Hannah to Mary we don't know.  Most scholars think it was a piece of liturgy, some prayer or song that was used regularly in Jewish worship and which Mary had learned.

When worship is at its best, it doesn't just give people words to say while they're in the room together, it gives them words to take home.  You don't sing "It is Well With My Soul" in church for fun; you sing it to learn it, so that you'll have a song when sorrows like sea billows roll.  You don't sing "For All the Saints" for nothing, but so that you'll have a way to sing to your grandparents' grandparents when you feel overcome by the legacy they've left you.  You don't sing "Amazing Grace" just because it's a good song, but so that you'll have an anthem to belt whenever you realized you've been saved.

When big stuff started happening to Mary, she didn't have to make up the right words for the occasion.  Worship had already written them on her heart.  Will it have done the same for you?

Prayer

God, send me worship worth memorizing, and grant that I might pay enough attention to do so.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

Looking for a way to say "thanks" to someone at church? Click here to preview and order How Can We Thank You?, a new collection of reflections from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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