"My Soul Magnifies The Lord"
On the wall behind the altar table is one of the biggest icons in the whole church. It is the icon of the Virgin Mary. Other names for Mary are "Panagia" which means "all holy," and "Theotokos" which means "God-bearer."
The Virgin Mary is given this place of honor in our church art & architecture because of how important she is to what we believe as Orthodox Christians.
We know from the Christmas story that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. We have all seen the many pictures, paintings, and nativity scenes depicting Mary and the newborn baby Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem. But have you ever stopped to think that this baby of Mary's, was not just a baby, but this baby was God coming to earth as one of us so that we could be saved? That means that God came to earth as Jesus through Mary.
This month we celebrate the Annunciation -- the day that the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would have a baby, and His name would be Jesus.
But this is not the end of the story. Just like all of us, Mary had free will to choose if she would be obedient to God. She first asked the Archangel Gabriel how this could be possible and he told her that " with God nothing will be impossible."
And then she told the Archangel Gabriel, "Let it be done to me according to your word." According to the Orthodox Study Bible, this simple but faithful and obedient response makes her "the highest model of obedience to God." We honor Mary, not only because God chose her, but also because she also chose to believe in God and to obey Him.
Shortly after the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary with this Good News, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with the child that would grow up to be John the Baptist. It was during this visit with Elizabeth that Mary offers her most famous song of praise to God which begins with the words, "My soul magnifies the Lord?."
Do you know how old Mary was when the angel came to her? She was a teenager not much older than many of you. She was probably 16 or 17 years old when she said yes to God. Jesus was born in Mary when she heard the word of God and was obedient.
What does it mean to magnify the Lord?
It means to bring Honor to Him to glorify Him.
Do you think we can do the same? Can we "magnify the Lord?"
What are some ways we can magnify Him?
We can magnify Him by the way we live our lives.
The Virgin Mary can be an example for us. We can offer ourselves to God for His work on earth. We can live good Christian lives. We can magnify the Lord.
Our Godparents accepted Jesus on our behalf at our baptism. Now that we are older, we need to accept Jesus for ourselves to place our lives in His hands and ask Him to use us according to His plan.
He is waiting for us. As He says in the Book of Revelations, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." It is up to us to let Him into our life and to say as Mary did, "let it be it done to me according to your word." And He will use us to Magnify Him in ways that we never imagined.
For additional resources, visit the Youth Ministries website at www.youth.goarch.org.