Advent Day 29 - Sunday, December 24

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46–47

I love sports. I love the competition. I love to see what the human body can do when pushed to the limit. And I love the emotional ride you take either as a player or as a devoted fan when the championship is on the line.

In this day and age of televised sports and athletes serving as role models, those of us who pay attention to sports will see or hear fairly regularly an athlete thanking God at the end of a winning performance. To most of us, it seems a little out of place; the cynics among us wonder if the same thing would be said if the camera wasn’t recording the moment, and the theologians among us are quick to remind us that it’s fairly likely that God could care less about who won the game.

Even though I may fall into both of those camps at one time or another, I am open to another interpretation, a Magnificat interpretation. When Mary visited her relative Elizabeth, when both of them were pregnant and the enormity of what God was up to through both of them began to sink in, she burst into spontaneous praise to God. Overrun with emotion, she simply couldn’t keep it bottled up any longer, so she gave thanks. She praised God for being so awesome. She pointed not to herself but to the God who was up to something much bigger than herself.

In my mind, that’s not a bad move on her part, and maybe, if I paint the athlete’s witness in the best possible light, maybe that’s the move they’re making too.

Could that be our move when we simply can’t contain our excitement and joy over life’s really good moments? Could we find a way to authentically praise God when everything seems to be going really well?

If we do, maybe we’ll be more inclined to turn to God when the going gets tough.

Awesome God, you are amazing and worthy of my praise. Today, I praise you for your faithfulness and grace, and I lean on you for strength and courage. You are my God, and I praise you. Amen.

Pr. Randy Gehring