Friday, December 23, 2016

The Songs of Christmas Favor (Mary’s Song)

Christmas Favor Series: Part 4 

Music is an essential element in my life; Christmas songs especially. So when it comes to participating in a play or cantata, I’m all in on the festivities.  There’s one in particular that could have changed the whole “gotta be a part of this” though … it all happened about twenty years ago. 

Our church was preparing for the annual Christmas cantata and as usual both my husband and I volunteered to be in the play and musical part of the program.  We were blessed being paired with one another as a couple.  He had a ton of lines and was really good.  

As for me, well I managed to get over my stage fright in the acting part.  It was the musical end that almost closed the curtains for this gal. 

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I am so thankful for your visit and hope that you come back each week to participate in the weekly challenges.  God has been faithful and we expect His Christmas favor to abound in the lives of those who chose to believe in His Son, Jesus all year round.

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Practice Perfect 

It was late September when those involved with the annual church Christmas program received the scripts and music that would be performed in December.  This year the cantata was the most difficult, but the songs were wonderful. 

After church on Sundays and following prayer meeting on Wednesdays we had rehearsal.  As the performance dates grew closer music practice would also be set for Monday or Tuesday, giving us time to weed out any problems in the solos or interactive parts.  

Our choir director was a perfectionist when it came to making sure everything went right.  We were in awe of his piano and singing abilities, but extremely blessed that he was part of our congregation and not off touring the world.  He could have been; he was highly favored by God in his theatrical music talent. 

Sing that Tune 

Even though the cast was good sized, our choir was not.  There were only about a dozen or so in the group, but every one of us was thrilled to be a part of the cantata.  Some of us were also in the play, which kept us hopping back and forth in the room. 

There were two lines that formed the group; boys in back and girls in front during rehearsals.  Being stage and platform challenged we sort of had no other choice. 

That’s the way it started out, but as we progressed people got switched around.  Eventually the choir director figured out the best positions for us all and we settled in to our new slots. 

I can’t remember where everyone stood, but it wasn’t hard to forget where I was standing.  To my right was Raven, one of the senior members in the church.  Next to her was my sister Ann and a few others to her right as well.  There was only one lady to my left. 

Watch just how off key he really is. So funny!.
Everything was going well until we opened our mouths to sing.  What a sad song it was as we all tried to sing in tune.  The problem was we each sang to our own beat.  It didn’t take long for us to get on key … for the most part anyway.  At least I tried and kept trying to sing the notes correctly.   

Our director would point to a person and on cue we had to sing a line or two from the program.  It reminded me of that episode of Andy Griffith when Barney tells the choir director he can sing.  Everyone knows but Barney that he can’t sing … not a lick! 

When he called on me I was as nervous as a cat.  I couldn’t really figure out why it happened, because our family sang professionally for years.  It is easier singing to people you don’t know though, at least it is for me. 

Not One More Step 

Whew … I did it, sang on key that is with no glitches at all.  Stepping back into my spot in line the director called on a couple more to belt out a few notes.  Not bad, everyone was doing okay. 

Sitting at the piano our director gave the signal to begin singing.  Within seconds that tone deaf bird flew back into the room, only this time it wouldn’t get off my shoulders.   What happened?  Not even ten minutes earlier I was singing fine. 

You can hear someone was NOT hitting the right notes, and I knew it was me.  No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get it right.  Looking past Raven I leaned over to see my sister.  I had this weird frown on my face as if she understood what I meant. 

Straightening my stance I leaned back into my position, but as I did the mysterious was uncovered. Dear Raven was the cause of my sour notes.  For some reason her voice was throwing me off key.  I didn’t understand this because when she sang a solo her voice was fine.  A bit low, but fine.   

I am a soprano and my sister is a falsetto soprano. After practice I asked if she was having any difficulty singing her part.  Of course she didn’t, her voice is perfect and beautiful. 

With some last tweaks of the positioning for the singers, the choir director decided to move me to the other side of the person standing on my left.  I didn’t really want to be switched, because I was in the center and eye-to-eye level in approximation with the director making it easy to follow his cues. 

Quickly stepping into her new spot she moved in front of me and ever so gently pushed me to the side.  As the night wore on I noticed that the tips of my toes were slightly off the platform and with another step I would have fallen off the stage.  In fact, I did take that giant leap one night.  Thankfully during the actual program the choir would be located on the floor to the right of the stage! 

Resounding Hallelujahs 

Our anticipation and anxiety grew as the performance dates arrived.  With lights lowered and positions set, it was time for Raven to sing her solo.  The audience silenced as her raspy bass voice sang the song of Christmas … the Savior has come.   

The voices of the saints were in harmony as we repeated the angelic sounds of rejoicing hallelujahs to the new born KING.  Jointly our “magificant” song mirrored that of Mary’s, which was given voice the night of Gabriel’s visitation.  Oh how the arms of God surrounded us with the revelation of Christmas favor that had come to mankind. 

The Songs of Christmas Favor 

Continuing through chapters one and two of the book of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible, there is another common thread that the participants of the first Christmas shared – a song of favor.  Zacharias, Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary along with Simeon and Anna all echoed a song of praise for the grace (unmerited favor) they received from the Lord.  For the sake of time, I’d like to share the heart of Mary in this post. 

This week I discussed with my husband what the Lord was sharing through His scriptures concerning the Magnificat of Mary also referred to as the Song of Mary.  It’s so much more than just lyrics from a young virgin girl who was excited about what God was about to do through her. 

If you’re not familiar with it, this canticle is most often sung during Christian church services around Advent from the scripture found in Luke 1:45-55 following a conversation she had while visiting Elizabeth.  Some think of it as a continuation or a follow-up response to the praises that she received when the news of her expectancy was revealed. 

In this hymn of praise, Mary describes that the joy in her soul reflected what she already possessed in her spirit.  She had found gladness of the Lord in God her Savior.  The delight was that He chose her, a lowly humble hand-maiden to bear the Son of God.   

It is likened to the magnificant song of Hannah when she rejoices in praise to Yahweh for the birth of her son Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1–10).  Traditionally we can see traces fashioned after the prophetess in the Song of Deborah found in Judges 5:1-31.  Mary chose to magnify God, but sadly many people throughout church history choose to magnify her over God.

Mary’s Four Soul Finds 

If we take a closer look between the lines of the Song of Mary, we can see how she describes the favor of God in four specific areas: 

1 - Favor God has shown her.

2 - Favor on those who fear God.

3 - Favor to others who choose God as Savior.

4 - Favor for Israel/Zion. 

The “Hymn of Mary” begins in Luke 1:46 and ends at verse 55.  Breaking down the four finds, it begins in verses 46-49 where Mary sees favor given to her.  It is here where we notice her humility in the condescension tones she uses comparing her lowly positioning or state to others from the merciful Almighty God, creator of all things. 

Mary rejoices and gives praise for Heavenly favor by trying to make sense of it all for the reason why God would choose such a girl as she to carry His child.  At this time she becomes fully aware that all generations will call her favored of God, because this is like no other that will ever be shown toward another human for all eternity past, present or future. 

1 - Favor to Herself 

Her song is a continuation of Elizabeth’s words in the conversation they were sharing about the favor of God on both their lives.  She tells how her soul (spirit) exulted rejoices and magnifies in God her Savior … the Savior of me personally.  

She starts with praise and rejoicing then repeats the process: 

Rejoice – And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (vs. 46-47) 

Mary recognizes she is a sinner that needs to be saved.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “all” have sinned.  She is in awe how the Lord has “looked upon her” with such mercy even though she isn’t royalty, but a servant in which she is now humbled to be a recipient of His grace and favor.  It gives her a reason to rejoice with gladness. 

Reason for rejoicing – “because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave.” (vs. 48) 

Rejoice – “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” 

Mary openly proclaims that indeed God is mighty - the Mighty One. (Psalm 20:1) 

Reason 2 for rejoicing - “because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is Holy.”  (vs. 49) 

2 - Favor and mercy on those who fear God.  

The voice of thanksgiving for favor is extended to those who fear God.  Mary understands that through THIS CHRIST-mas child will come the fulfillment of the promise to redeem mankind. 

God has reached down from Heaven granting His eternal mercy for all generations that revere and fear Him.  It’s no longer just about her receiving extraordinary favor. 

“His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. (vs. 50) 

3 - Favor to others who choose God as Savior. 

New light is given to her revelation when she learns that God is discriminating in His distribution of remarkable favor.  It is only extended to those who seek His Son through the redemptive power of salvation. 

Favor is no longer just for those who love God among the Jewish nation, but through Jesus Christ, favor will be extended to the Gentiles – all people, every nation and tribe who receive the message of salvation.   

God has stretched out His arm of favor through the power of the Holy Spirit to save the lost, and reject those who remain filled with pride. 

“He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered
the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts.” (vs. 51) 

Instead of promoting the high and mighty upon earthly thrones (the Bible refers to as “seats”), God has passed over Kings of the past who exalt themselves over Him.  He didn’t look to the elite rulers of Israel, but showered her, a lowly handmaiden, with His favor. 

Mary’s Song of Favor starts out magnifying God, and ends with proclaiming the promises that will be remembered forever.   She is encouraged, lifted up and her joy is full.  Her life is now satisfied with good things and those in power have been sent away with nothing from the Lord. 

“He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.” (vs. 52-53)

4 - Favor for Israel (Zion which is the Church). 

The last favor find that Mary tells us is that God has kept His promise to grant mercy to Israel.  This is a two-fold remembrance vow.  Israel is to remember how God has granted them mercy throughout generations past when He took them by the hand and led them to the promise land.

God also remembers His promise to Abraham’s seed or offspring, which covers the vastness of earth from generation to generation.  You could think of it like this:
“God remembers His own promises.” 

Jehovah remembers His love and devotion to the people of Israel and His plans will always include them. (Psalm 98:3)  We would be wise to do the same! 

“He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his
descendants forever.” (vs. 54-55 HCSC)

Raven’s Song of Christmas Favor 

It’s amazing how God reveals His messages to us.  Sometimes it comes through ministering angels as it did with those mentioned in this Christmas Favor Series, sometimes through His Word or others.   

This week it came through Raven, a humble servant of the Lord who left earth to sing with the Heavenly Saints this past Monday, December 19th, 2016.  The love of God was deep in her heart as it was with Mary; we heard it sung time and time again through the song of favor she sang from John 3:16. 

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 HCSB)

Although we shall miss our sister in Christ, we believe and receive the CHRIST-mas favor of salvation that Immanuel, God is with us. (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8)  

The promise of eternal life was manifested through God’s Son Jesus … the CHRIST-mas child, over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem!   

Rejoice all ye Saints, Mary’s song of CHRIST-mas favor is still being sung.  Won’t you join me in the choir and proclaim your song of Christ’s favor? 

This Week’s Challenge:
Sing Your Song of Favor  

Throughout the Christmas season we love to join in the chorus and sing carols in whatever key we want.  There’s a laughter and joy that fills the room penetrating into our hearts as we sing joy to the world.  By the time we get to Silent Night a hush covers the room, and the Spirit of the Lord reveals Himself to our humbled hearts. 

For our challenge this week, let us sing our song of favor for all to hear. As we celebrate Christmas this season, be very mindful of the four things that Mary pondered in her heart when CHRIST-mas was born.   

Remember how God has favor in store just for you.   

Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully crafted, created and molded by Him for His plan. 

Remember that you are not exempt when it comes to needing your sins washed away, and that only His grace and unmerited favor will grant you access into Heaven. 

Remember that God loves Israel and Zion (His Christian church both Gentile and Jewish).  We are His and the promised CHRIST-mas child came that all will not perish, but have everlasting life. 

With a song in our hearts and praise on our lips, it’s our time to joyfully proclaim His fame from this generation to the next generation!  God has shown us great things; Holy is His name.  His mercy and favor are free for all those who fear Him and receive Him. 

Merry Christmas beloved of God, may the songs of Christ’s favor bring glad tidings of good news to all who hear it. (Hopefully, they’ll all be on key!) 

If this article has encouraged or helped you, please consider sharing it by using the social media icons provided at the end of this post. 

Until next time, join in the Song of God’s favor for your life!

“There is a favor song for all the Saints.”
Jesus Christ

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).  Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

What’s New This Week: Click on the photo or link.
The Women of Christmas by Lisa Curtis Higgs on Daily Favor Blog
Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna
By Lisa Curtis Higgs (Hardcover Edition) 

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible.
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Christmas Cantata  Christmas Sheet Music  Barney Can't Sing  Hallelujah  Mary's Song  God's Favor  John 3:16
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Songs of Christmas, Mary's Song, Birth of Jesus Christ, Favor of God, Extraordinary Favor, Favored1, Daily Favor Blog, Christmas Favor, Merry Christmas, Christian Living, Lisa Curtis Higgs, Todd Agnew, Raven, Christmas Cantata

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