By Patricia Hernandez
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46-47, NRSV)
As I was reflecting on Mary’s Magnificat, I was drawn back to a time early in my ministry when I served in a missional ministry with migrant farmworkers. One summer we decided to hold a healing service for the Growers and the migrant farmworkers who were often at odds with each other. People laughed and said no one would come. Especially, they said, we would never get the Growers—the farm owners—to come.
But we prayed. And prayer is a mighty thing, a Mary Magnificat kind of a thing.
One Grower did come. And some skeptics standing by laughed and said, “See, only one!”
They teased and taunted till he wanted to leave.
But we prayed. And he stayed. Prayer is a mighty thing…
He was the only one. But he was enough. Now there was in the crowd a woman who had lost two children to pesticide-related deaths. She was bent over and twisted up. As she shared her story, her pain, her loss, the Grower was moved to tears.
He walked over to her, placed his hands on her shoulders, looked her in the eye and said, “I’m sorry.” And one Grower was enough. In that action, Christ was present. Later, Bernadette, the farmworker, said that she had never felt such love flow into her. And Jack, the Grower, said he had never felt such love flow out.
Both were healed and restored.
And a bent over woman and an over-powering man embraced.
She was raised up.
He bowed down.
Both became part of God’s family.
All of this came back to me as I was reflecting on Mary’s Song of Praise, pondering the possibilities of this life changing event, her tumultuous, tummy-turning harbinger of the world to come, and the One who would usher it in.
“He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.” (Luke 1:52)
Or we might say, “He has knocked down farm owners,
and pulled migrant farmworkers out of the muddy cornfields.”
Reconciliation is a rough process: a muddy, mucky, toppling, turning, but ultimately transforming kind of a process.
Reconciliation is no passive process but a passionate, purposeful re-making that results in an explosion of new life and new possibilities.
“For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:6)
With Mary we wait, patiently, pondering the tumultuous tide of seasonal striving.
While resolution came to Jack and Bernadette on that day, there continues to be injustice in the way that farmworkers are treated, and in the positional power that divides so many.
Let’s reflect on the things in our lives that need to be overturned, that…
barriers may be broken
and bonds of community restored
that we may be and become the body of Christ with and for each other,
bursting into song with Mary:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46-47)
Rev. Dr. Patricia Hernandez is national director of American Baptist Women in Ministry/Transition Ministries.