There is a wonderful meme that gets passed around online regarding this feast day. Usually it is accompanied with artwork of Mary and Elizabeth regarding one another’s state. Both women are visibly pregnant and both implausibly so given what they thought they knew about themselves. The caption usually points out that the conversation between these two impossibly-pregnant women is not about the brands of clothes they will buy or which schools their children will attend or what they hope their careers and spouses might be. No, these women are energetically discussing—singing even—about the downfall of oppressive powers, the liberation of captives, and the welcome of marginalized people. This is their hope for their unborn sons.
Many Anglicans get uneasy on days like today. The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth can sound, on the surface, like perhaps we're sliding a few degrees to the left and losing some of Christ in the discussion. But if we examine the discussion between Mary and Elizabeth, especially Mary's Song, both women are fixated on God. They acknowledge the role they hold in God's plan, but immediately move to the things that God will do for all people in the bigger picture. Mary is always pointing us to her son. To God.
God might have chosen any number of ways of revealing the new covenant to us. But when the time came to do so, God chose to cooperate with humanity, calling people like Elizabeth and Mary to give of themselves, quite literally of their bodies, for the sake of others. Just as God had done throughout history with others, like Hannah and Hagar. In the case of Mary and Elizabeth, these women not only do so willingly, but find comfort, support, and even joy in their shared experience. Entering motherhood in these ways was not what either of them expected, but it is the work to which they were called when God needed to be present with them and their people.
For many people, coming to church is a response to hearing God's call in one way or another. Some are drawn through curiosity about the building and these peculiar rituals that we share. Others for the beauty of the art and music in this space. Others for the tradition that they have inherited from their ancestors in faith. Some come because of the challenge that the Gospel puts to the world, one that resonates with them. For them, Mary's Song really is a rallying cry and a revolutionary anthem about the world that could be.
You and I may not have thought that God's call to us was one that included cleaning a churchyard full of discarded needles, bringing food and water to the unhoused, learning how to administer naloxone to prevent overdose deaths, or arguing with civic policy-makers about the need for public washrooms to increase health and preserve dignity. But you and I have been called to be God's people here, at Holy Trinity, in downtown Winnipeg where all of these needs are real and present.
We may feel inadequate or unsuited or uncomfortable to meet these challenges. Just as Mary and Elizabeth surely were skeptical when God laid out the plan that they would cooperate in. It was probably hard to understand why God had chosen them, out of all the people in the world. But they were the ones chosen and, with the faith of their ancestors behind them and their hope sealed by God's promises, they responded to the call.
Our song may never be one that is sung by millions in prayer every day around the world. But if we respond to God's call to be a force for change, a divine revolution in the world, our song may be the one that saves our neighbour's life. We are the ones God has called here and now, however unlikely that may seem to us. And, for God's sake, I hope we have faith enough together to respond and say to the world in word and action, "My soul, too, glorifies God."