The Magnificat: A Song of Courage

Audio Devotion by Shea Darian (Advent 2020)

©2020 by Shea Darian. All Rights Reserved.

Scripture: Luke 1: 39-56

Written Text: In a quiet moment today, if you will, do this: Sweep your mind of the remnants of the white-faced, pink-cheeked Mary you know from centuries of Western art. Sweep away the saccharine Madonna of yore who joyously opens her womb to become the obedient child-bride of God. Every first-time mother knows that childbirth breeds fear, all the more when the babe’s name is pronounced, “Messiah.”

If you will, empty your mind of all delusions of Mary – in truth, “Miriam,” named after the sister of Moses. In the hallowed sanctuary of your imagination, a dark-skinned, dark-eyed, dark-haired Miriam beckons you, a half-married Jewish girl from the lowly, little city of Nazareth. Miriam was as human as the son she bore and less positioned than he to be a voice of freedom for the downcast. Yet, she was and is, still. 

Miriam: a woman in a man’s world, a Jew ruled by Romans, a peasant destined to a lifetime of labor who is familiar with poverty, violence, and oppression. Miriam: likely, uneducated and illiterate, except for the oral schooling traditions of storytelling, poetry, and sacred song. 

Hence, in her magnificent moment of reckoning, Miriam sings! She sings not because she is unafraid, but because she is. She sings a song engraved upon her heart, plucked from her beloved Hebrew psalms as solace. In her daring proclamation, courage is indispensable – the kind of courage that is built on fear that refuses to give up hope. 

Miriam puts her hope in a God who stands with her, a peasant girl of the common, everyday variety. Her courageous song declares to us through place and time: “If God can work miracles even through me, God can work miracles even through you.” 

Hear it. Believe it. Sing it. And be of good courage.

Prayer: God, we confess: In these difficult times, we are often fearful and despairing: During this tumultuous advent season, may our courage be built on fear that refuses to give up hope. May our stories and songs of Your Love Incarnate light the fires of freedom within us and in all those who open their ears to hear. Singing God, may our canticles of courage and celebration make their way into the hearts of all those who seek your Bountiful Love, Generous Mercy, and Enduring Faith for we humans of the common, everyday variety.  Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Shea Darian. All rights reserved.

Published by Shea

Shea Darian, M.Div. is a family and grief educator, spiritual care provider, and award-winning author. Shea is the creator of the Model of Adaptive Grieving Dynamics, published in the journal Illness, Crisis & Loss, Vol. 22(3), 2014. Books on family spirituality include Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child's Spiritual Life and Living Passages for the Whole Family: Celebrating Rites of Passage from Birth to Adulthood. Shea's new book, Doing Grief in Real Life: A Soulful Guide to Navigate Loss, Death & Change will be released in 2021. Visit

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