Excerpted from 2023 Advent Guide: A Season of Renewal, an Advent Guide for Lectionary Year B from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowly state 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;
indeed, 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 imagination 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 come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
As I penned this meditation, my family awaited the birth of a baby that would make me a grand aunt. While excited about this new addition to my paternal line, my work with the Council stifles this anticipation when I consider the risks of childbirth for Black mothers and Black babies.
Mary, did you know that in 2023, Black babies in North Carolina would be 2.5 times more likely to die than white babies, while Black women experience almost twice the rate of maternal mortality than white women, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
When I read the Lukan text where Mary sings about her social location and the joy of knowing that God will liberate and overturn the fate of the lowly, I remember the Mighty One is still in control.
As I meditate on Mary’s song while considering the challenges of childbirth, not only in ancient Palestine, but also in rural communities in our state, I find assurance that this hope she sings about infuses our day-to-day work of advocating for policy change that supports women, children, the medical care they receive, the food they eat and have access to, and other efforts to support their health and wellness in faith communities across the state.