Preached at Friday Matins, Te Deum Conference, Higher Things, Seward-NB
“My soul magnifies the Lord. My life makes the Lord very great. Don’t look at me, look at Him. He is mighty and merciful and holy. He puts down the proud, He lifts up the humble. He fills the hungry, He hungers the full. He keeps His promises. My soul magnifies the Lord.”
The Te Deum life not a selfie.
The world says, “Hey, look at you! You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re strong, you’re pretty, you’re handsome, you’re fabulous, you’re a winner!”
The devil says, “Hey, look at you! You’re pious, you’re religious, you’re Lutheran, you do good works, you’re kind to animals, you help old church ladies across the street, you sing old hymns, you support the right causes, you have the catechism memorized. You should be proud, and God should be pleased. Just look at you!”
Your old adamic Flesh says, “Look at me! I thank God I’m not like everyone else, especially, well…you know…those people. Let me snap a selfie so you can admire me too. How about a selfie with Jesus. Me and Jesus, Best Friends Forever. Hey, don’t I look good next to Jesus? Look at me.”
And God sticks the magnifying mirror of the Law in front of your little selfie and says, “Look at you. Idolator, blasphemer, despiser of God’s Word, rebel, anarchist, murderer, adulterer, liar, greedy. Sinner. Take a good hard look. There’s your selfie. Want it up on Facebook? Want your Mom to see it? You Dad? Care to Tweet about it? Instagram it? Proud of it? Want a parade?
If anyone had reason for a selfie, it was Mary. Why, cousin Elizabeth even calls her “Mother of my Lord” and blesses her. Wow! An angel visited her! That’s Instagram worthy. “God-bearer” the church calls her. Theotokos. She’s a teenager. Your age. And pregnant. Yes, yes, I know, “It’s complicated,” as they say on Facebook. But she’s pregnant with the Son of God, conceived by the Spirit in her virginity. God chose her out of all the potential mothers of Israel. He chose her, Mary, a nobody from Nazareth, engaged to some guy named Joseph. God picked this girl from a no-name town in the hill country to be the mother of Messiah. That calls for a selfie, doesn’t it?
My soul magnifies the Lord, she sings. “He must increase, I must decrease.” “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be the glory.”
The Te Deum life is not a selfie. It’s not look at me, look at me, look at me. It’s look at Him, look at Him, look at Him. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Look at Him who made you, who redeemed you, who makes you holy. You, O God, we praise. You. You, O Lord, we confess.
Mary magnifies the Lord. Her magnifying lens is faith. Mary was faith-filled before she was faithful. Before she ever conceived, she believed. Before the Word became Flesh in her virgin womb, the Word took hold of her sinful heart. Mary found favor with God not because she was prettier, purer, or more pious than the other Israelite girls, but because she believed. She trusted God’s promise to her forefathers, to Abraham and His Seed. She was filled with faith by the Spirit. And being faith-filled, she was faithful. She is the Lord’s servant and instrument – full of faith and faithful. Her faith magnifies the Lord.
She magnified the Lord as she pondered the the words of the shepherds on the night her Son was born in Bethlehem. She magnified the Lord at a wedding in Cana when the wine ran out. “Do whatever he tells you,” she said to servant. Sound advice, even today. It’s her last recorded words in Scripture. Do whatever He tells you. Even when the sword of grief pierced her soul as she stood at the foot of the cross to watch her Son die to be her Savior, she magnified the Lord. Even as the religious world, and even Joseph, harbored doubts over whose child she really was bearing, she magnified the Lord.
Mary magnified the Lord because the Lord had magnified her. He had done great things to her. And He has done great things to you too. You are baptized. We sing Mary’s song as our own song, each of us within our own calling. Mary was called uniquely to be the Bearer of the Word. She was called to be Mother Eve’s counterpart. Eve listened to the Lie and was deceived; Mary heard the Word by the angel and conceived. To be the mother of our Lord was uniquely hers to do. And you have what is uniquely yours to do, where God has put you, and however He has gifted you.
“Faith toward Thee, fervent love toward one another,” as Luther taught the church to pray. No room for a selfie in that way of praying. Or living.
Fix those eyes of faith on Jesus, not your selfie. Magnify the Lord. Gaze into the reflective pool of Baptism to see who you really are in Jesus. Leave the selfie to Him. He’ll magnify you.
Te Deum Laudamus.