You have heard of “Elf on the Shelf?” He’s a tricky little elf who parents place in all kinds of unsuspecting places leading up to Christmas. According to “elfontheshelf.com,”
“It’s a fun-filled Christmas tradition that’s captured the hearts of children everywhere who welcome home one of Santa’s Scout Elves each holiday season. The magical Scout Elves help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists by reporting back to him at the North Pole nightly.”
You can adopt the boyish blabbermouth at ‘adoption centers’ all across North America. This minuscule meddler gets up to all kinds of mischief and has provided countless hours of fun fro adults and children alike. But I must confess… I am sick and tired of all of the images of this petite prattler that have plastered social media. I find the notion of telling children that this gaudy gossiper is sneaking around the house spying on their behavior to be just downright cruel (No need to email me to tell me I don’t have kids – “so shut up!” I already know I don’t have kids… and I’m not good at keeping my mouth shut). I know it can be fun, and I know plenty who have had fun with it, but please… Telling kids that Santa has sent a snitch in early to report back on their every move? You have to be kidding me. Having to get up each morning to see where the miniature mole has turned up next does little to take away the fear that one misstep could mean the tiny tattler is texting the fat freak at the North Pole to have him cut back on the Christmas loot. It freaks me out.
So for the balance of Advent I will be sharing photos of Magnificat Mary. (More on this later) This is something new for this season that precedes Christmas. Just a refresher. Christmas is a twelve day season. None of those twelve days are in November, and only 6 are in December. If you are confused as to how this could be, look up Epiphany, which marked the end if the Christmas Season. It falls on January 6. The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are known as Advent. And rather than a time focus on one’s naughty and nice list, this season encourages Christians the world over to ….. wait…. that’s right wait! It is an expectant time. A time pregnant with hope, with eagerness to embrace peace, and light. It is a time to gaze through these dark days of December for a Light that no darkness can extinguish. It is a time dripping with expectation. It is a counter cultural and counter-consumer season. It is not rushed. It is a time to stop, not a time to go faster.
There are some key characters that shape the Advent story. Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zachariah. John spends his days telling us to prepare. Not in the ‘trim the tree’ way of preparing, but in the ‘mend your broken relationships’ kind of preparing. John is at work telling the world that we can straighten the crooked roads, and level the roadways for all. Elizabeth, before her son John arrived foretold that his cousin Jesus would be blessed. Zachariah knew as well the importance of his son John and that of his cousin Jesus. At John’s circumcision he declared… You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. Joseph too played a critical role. He was ready to throw in the towel on his relationship with Mary, but trusting the vision he had to stick by her side. But none more than Mary exemplify the power of this Advent season. Mary says yes to the monumental task of bearing light. She says yes to a plan that will bring her pain and suffering. She says yes to sacrifice. She is not looking at what is in it for her. She sings a song in response to what she has taken on. Her song, the Magnificat, acknowledges the hard work of being pregnant with, light, pregnant with hope, pregnant with peace, pregnant with forgiveness, and the promise that comes with such a wild and unpredictable commitment.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our forebears,
to Abraham and Sarah and their children forever.
Mary declares a new way. Magnificat Mary is always looking to turn things over. She wants the lowly lifted up and the mighty humbled. She declares that God will show mercy on God’s people. Magnificat Mary will deliver change that the world will reject. I dare say, if there was a elf on the godforsaken shelf when she sang her song, he would tattletale on her to the world. She was foretelling that that they ways of consumption, violence, and waste were about to be challenged.
So for the rest of Advent, as I wait for the twelve days of Christmas, I will place Magnificat Mary in different places… I’ll attempt to post here and there. She will hopefully remind us that we are not being spied upon and that our every move is not being picked apart. rather, she might remind us that God has come to our aid. That We do not walk alone. That we have a role to play in lifting up one another…. perhaps you might like to ‘adopt’ a Magnificat Mary and place her in different places and share with your family and friends how this time of expectation and hope, is truly a time to make ready our lives for the one who has been revealed to us, and for whom we now work to bring about the Reign of Light.
I adopted my Magnificat Mary from The Mustard Seed in London, ON. She is available for ‘adoption’ there, as well as on Amazon and at Christian bookstores near you. You can post your pics and #MagnificatMary.