“Then Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38.
This is Mary’s “yes” to God’s action in her life. Henri Nouwen in his meditations for Advent titled In Joyful Hope says: “You have to say ‘yes’ fully to your powerlessness in order to let God heal you. But your willingness to experience your powerlessness already includes the beginning of surrender to God’s action in you. Your willingness to let go of your desire to control your life reveals a certain trust. The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the one who has the power to heal and guide you.”
Jesus, I confess that I struggle to stay in control. My Christmas prayer for myself is to surrender and trust you for what I need to grow.
(c) 2017 Eunice Cheshire
Spiritual Director &
HeartPaths Core Faculty
it is so high that I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139: 1-2, 6)
It is said that Advent is a season of wonder. What is it that fills me with awe? Today (truth be told), I have one foot in the exuberant joy that is just around the corner. I struggle to avoid “skipping ahead” to lose myself in the beloved story. But still, I know that it isn’t just contemplating God coming to earth that fills me with awe. I drag myself back from anticipating the Incarnation to ponder the reality of God being fully present in me, not just on earth. Now, that truly is too wonderful.
The walk to pick up a grandchild from school takes only ten quick adult minutes. But if I am accompanied by his younger brother the walk takes thirty minutes, because little Luke finds wonders all along the sidewalk. We investigate ant trails, bees gathering pollen in weeds, pecans spilled from overhead branches, rocks that surely contain fossils. My efficient adult walk completes a task. My languid little boy walk nourishes our relationship and opens my senses to God’s creation alive in the suburbs.
My Advent can pass quickly as I check off tasks and hurry through the whirlwind of activities to arrive at Christmas Day. Or my Advent can take a slower path where I look and listen and feel God’s presence in my world. I still arrive at Christmas Day, but the wonders are spread all along the way.
The Bible has numerous stories of God’s call for the faithful who least expect it. Whether it is Zechariah, or the virgin Mary, the feeling referred to in that instance is fear. They are admonished not to be afraid. How does fear impair God’s action and presence in our lives? The message of the angel rings out – fear cannot abide with obedience to God’s invitation to trust. The first letter of John tells us that there is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear because fear implies punishment. One who fears is not yet perfect in love. It also tells us that we love because God first loved us – in becoming human like us – and whoever remains in love, remains in God and God in him. What fears do we need to cast out this Advent, so that God’s call may lead our lives?