Mary’s Praise and Social Concerns

Living in God’s kingdom here and now has both spiritual and earthly dimensions. The latter deals especially with social justice. Both of these are found in Mary’s response when Elizabeth told her, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Mary replied, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….The mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Of God she said, “His mercy is for those who fear him.” For those who don’t:

  • He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
  • He has brought down the powerful from their thrones.
  • He has lifted up the lowly.
  • He has filled the hungry with good things.
  • He has sent the rich away empty.

Mary concludes that God “has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy.” Luke 2:39-55.

Howard W. Hallman is author of Living in God’s Kingdom: Here and Now, available from Amazon.

Many Expressions of Prayer

Prayers can have a variety of expressions. Many appear in the few short verses of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught (Matthew 6:9-13 RSV with some editing).

  • Personal relationship with God (“Our Father who art in heaven”)
  • Praise (“Hallowed be thy name”)
  • Concern for society (“Thy kingdom come”)
  • Obedience (“Thy will be done”)
  • Petition (“Give us this day our daily bread’)
  • Confession and request for forgiveness (for “our trespasses”)
  • Forgiveness of others (“who trespass against us”)
  • Guidance (“lead us not into temptation”)
  • Protection (“deliver us from evil”)
  • Acknowledgement of God’s supremacy (“the power and the glory forever”)

Elsewhere in the Bible we find other expressions (NRSV):

  • Lamentation (“Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!” Psalm 130.1)
  • Thanksgiving (“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” Psalm 107.1)
  • Commitment (“Here am I, send me.” Isaiah 6:8)

Howard W. Hallman lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is author of Living in God’s Kingdom: Here and Now, available from Amazon.

Holistic Perspective

When we consider living in God’s kingdom on earth, we need to take a holistic perspective. First, we need to consider that the Two Great Commandments are inextricably linked.You need a strong spiritual life based upon love for God to be able to love your neighbor, and Jesus’ addition, love your enemy. And you need to love other people to able to love God. “The person who doesn’t love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Second, it is not enough to dedicate yourself to a life of prayer and worship without going out into society to show mercy and seek justice. But also it’s insufficient to engage in social action without have a strong spiritual foundation. In the Methodist tradition personal piety goes along with social holiness.

Third, if we want to obtain God’s forgiveness for our transgressions, we must first forgive others who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15).