The God Who Remembers

Jesus in the manger

                

The God Who Remembers

“Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them.” Psalm 106:4 (ESV)

Remember Me

The heart cry of God’s people in the dark night of their souls was — remember me! In Luke’s day, God’s people were living under the oppression of Rome’s ruler King Herod. Day in and day out, they waited, doubted, and wondered if God meant what He had promised to their ancestors about coming relief. As time plodded on, it seemed more and more likely God had indeed forgotten them.

But the God who remembers was on the move — working in and through a new kind of prophet — Mary of Nazareth. Like all prophets, she would recognize God’s presence, point others to Him, and remain rooted in His promise.

In Luke 1:54 Mary declares, God “has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.” This word for remembrance is rooted in the Hebrew verb zakar. It’s a word of action, not just recollection. It speaks to continuous uninterrupted action of love on the part of God towards His people.

Chad Bird, in His book “Your God is Too Glorious” puts it this way,

“For God to zakar his mercy, to remember his steadfast love, is for him to enact that mercy, to put his love into action. Just as he remembered Noah so that he dried up the floodwaters (Gen 8:1), just as he remembered Rachel so that he opened her womb (Gen 29:22), so when God remembers to show mercy to us this Advent season, he does so not by sitting back and thinking about us. He incarnates that mercy in his Son. For God to zakar is to give, to help, to provide. And that giving, helping, and providing is wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. Jesus is the zakar of the Father, his remembrance for us.”

Mary responds to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat of love with trust as she sings out in response to the good news that her womb would soon be home to the divine.

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:46-55 (ESV) Bible Gateway Link

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

And 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 thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

as he spoke to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Reflection:

We can take God at His word because He, as Mary sings, is a God who remembers His people. God has a track record of faithfully showing up with His mercy and favor to bless them.

In her song, Mary pronounces all generations will call her blessed.

Elizabeth, upon hearing the news of Mary’s pregnancy, spoke blessing over her in acknowledgement of her faith, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (NKJV)

To be blessed is to find favor with God. His story began with blessing at creation and continues toward a world in desperate need of redemption and restoration. The story finds its conclusion in this original blessing fulfilled by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

You and I are also the blessed of God, and we come from a long line of blessed ones. You will find in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1 many favored women listed there. It includes women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary. Not one could have known the impact their blessed faithfulness to God’s promise would have and how it would specifically be fulfilled in Jesus.

From beginning to end of God’s story, Mary’s story, and our stories, God’s Spirit is present. Sometimes hovering over chaos at creation, or descending upon the baptized Jesus, or hovering over a young girl named Mary.

This same Spirit who sang the world into being is working in your life. He hovers over the chaos in all the empty spaces of the soul, bringing redemption, restoration, and rest — fulfilling the promise of God.

Prayer of Faith:

God with you is God for you in the person and work of Jesus Christ and because of Jesus you too can sing this prayer:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Amen

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