25 June 2019

Hearing Mary, the Magnificat,
the Marginalised, and the
Prophetic Voice of the Church

An image of Mary in a quiet corner at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Mary’s song, the Magnificat, provided the opening focus this morning at the second day of the USPG conference in High Leigh.

The annual conference of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is taking place at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.

The conference theme this year is The Prophetic Voice of the Church, and this is linked to the USPG Bible study course with the same name.

We began the day today [25 June 2019] with the Morning Eucharist celebrated by the Very Revd Dr Gloria Lita D Mapangdol, President and Dean of Saint Andrew's Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Later she led us in her Bible study on the Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-5), which was the Gospel reading at the Eucharist:

46 And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Gloria introduced the Magnificat as the prelude to Lucan theme of reversal. Here is a young woman from an insignificant town and family, who has her life turned upside down.

She calls for solidarity with the poor and the oppressed as she speaks or sings about her concern for the poor and the marginalised.

She challenges the powers by identifying herself with the suffering and the voiceless, and looks to God’s justice and mercy for all

Could we have missed the real Mary?

Are we called to be like Mary, who could be seen as a spokesperson for the Church?
Are we courageous enough to take risk like Mary?

She left us with three questions to discuss:

● How can we become the prophetic voices of our communities?

● Are we willing to take risks to give voice and hope to those who do not have them?

● How can we in the Church strengthen or recover our prophetic ministry in today’s world?

Morning flowers at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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