Do you know what the first ever Christmas Carol was?

Traditional carol singing as we know it today seems to have become popular during the 19th Century and into the Victorian era. However, the very earliest carol was first sung by none other than Mary herself, the mother of Jesus.

Having discovered she was pregnant with the Son of God, Mary burst into song:

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour …

These aren’t the normal joyful words of an expectant mother, though. These words are the realisation that something even more amazing was happening. Mary’s song continues:

… God’s mercy extends to those who fear him
He has scattered those who are proud
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
But has lifted up the humble
He has filled the hungry with good things
But has sent the rich away empty

Her song speaks of the world turned upside down – the high brought low, and the low raised up; the empty filled and the full left empty. What does this all mean?

It feels like our world has been turned upside down over the last couple of years by the pandemic, and we wonder whether it will ever get back to normal again. But is that what we really want?

The normal way of things in this world has always been plague and pestilence, brokenness and pain, oppressed and oppressor, disharmony and death.

The ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic world is just another version of the ‘old normal’, with all the same sin and brokenness and death. We don’t need things to ‘get back to normal’, we need a total overhaul of life.

This is what Mary’s song is about; this is what Christmas is about. In Jesus, God has given us a Saviour who will pull down the evil powers of this world and raise up the lowest, the least and the lost. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus stands in our place, paying the debt for our sin, and bringing us into God’s new family.

As the risen King, Jesus establishes a new world: where the humble are raised up, the oppressed are free, the hurting are healed, the sinner is cleansed, and the dead will live!  This is the new normal we truly need.

This Christmas, God invites you to trust in Jesus as your Saviour and to believe the words of Mary so that you might sing with her, ‘the Mighty One has done great things for me!’

Dan Dwelly
Dan is the pastor at ChristChurch Tilehurst. He is married to Emma and has three children: Thea, Jesse & Phoebe.