And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
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 powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Four years ago, I went to a P!nk concert. I was a feminist by then, and thought that I was pretty aware of systems of oppression and cultural norms and The Patriarchy. So here I am, ready to have fun at a fantastic concert with one of my favorite artists, and we’re all packed into Philips Arena, and I’m way up in the balcony and I look out and see everyone, and I suddenly hear myself think, clear as a bell – “why are there so many guys here?”
Why are there men at this female musician’s concert?
I watched in disbelief the thought as it came in and watched in shock as it left.
The world is speaking so loudly about women that my own female self echoes it back.
Women’s music is for women. Women’s preaching is for women. Women’s books are for women. But what men sing and write and preach – that’s for everyone. That’s genderless. Like white people claiming that they have no culture, men’s voices rise as the “genderless” voice, the universal human voice that can speak to universal human concerns. Women can talk to women, about women, but women cannot talk to men, and absolutely can’t talk about anything that would be universal.
And Mary said – and Mary said – and Mary roared.
“Don’t make Advent about politics,” they say. “Don’t bring the political into the pulpit. Don’t take gender politics into preaching. Don’t be a ‘social justice warrior’ – just preach the Gospel.”
Just preach the Gospel.
And meanwhile, while we are “just preaching the Gospel,” Mary sings the first Christmas song about the justice of God throwing down the corrupt systems of this world.
That is one of the most political things I’ve ever heard.
And it’s not just the content that is political. It’s not just political because it tells a story of the Kingdom of God breaking through the systems of evil, oppression, corruption, and overthrowing them. It’s not just political because it says God will cast down the powerful and raise up the lowly. It’s not just political because it sings that the rich will be sent away empty while the poor are finally filled.
It is political because it is a woman singing it.
It is a woman who proclaims the first Christmas message. It is a woman who cries out that God has not forgotten the poor and the hungry, that God has not ignored the violence of the wealthy and the powerful, that the Kingdom of God is on its way and it is literally growing inside her.
One of the most radical things about the Magnificat is that a woman sings a universal song.
Mary’s song isn’t a “Woman’s Christmas Song” or a “Women’s devotional” or a Women’s Blog” or a “Girls’ Night” or a “Women’s Pastoral Care Event.” It is not about the household sphere. It is not about raising children or having a family, even though that’s what she’s about to do, and even though those are beautiful and feminist acts as well. Her message is not to women, from a woman.
Mary’s song is a fierce, unapologetic, and hopeful battle cry to the coming of the Kingdom of God for all people.
We grew up in church. We grew up loving Jesus. And now – we are so tired. The whispers of this present darkness keep worming their way into our souls: Women’s books are women’s books and men’s books are for all people. Women’s music is for women and men’s music is for people. Women can teach women but men can teach everyone. And the whispers are magnified in our culture and our churches and our places of power until we begin to accept that what we have to say is not universal but particular, that we are not allowed to be fierce or prophetic, that we should speak gently but we should never, ever roar.
And to our weary, culture-battered souls, Mary sings a song of justice for the whole world, making a way for us to understand ourselves as women who are called to preach and write and pastor and protest and lead. Mary tells us that whatever we’re called to do and be for the world – whether it’s mother, teacher, president, dancer, social worker, CEO, pastor, preacher – we can do and be for all people. Our voice is universal because women are, in fact, fully human and created fully in the image of God.
Oh Jesus, I want Mary’s voice to be louder, to be a roar of women who know that we’re allowed to be fully human and participate in the redemption of the world alongside Jesus Christ, not as “women preachers” or “women’s authors” or “women’s lecturers” but to hear Paul, yes Paul, roar along with Mary that in Christ there is no male or female.
Advent is political, y’all. Advent is feminist.