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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Our spiritual wombs full, our hearts expanding with love as we birth something new!
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 20, 2020

Samuel 7:1,8b-12,14a,16;   Romans 16:25-27;  Luke 1:26-38

In the Gospel this Sunday, we see the radical transformation which occurred that gives us our Christmas hope! Alyce McKenzie sums it up like this, “In only three short verses, from peasant girl to prophet, from Mary to mother of God, from to denial to discipleship. In a very real way, this is the appropriate transition from Advent to Christmas. Mary’s story moves us all from who we think we are to what God has called us to be, from observant believer to confessing apostle. Moreover, remarkably, impossibly, Mary’s story demands that we acknowledge the very transformation of God. It is no small journey to go from our comfortable perceptions of God to God in the manger, vulnerable, helpless, dependent. Yet, this is the promise of Christmas”.

“I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke is the only evangelist who allows us a peek into Mary’s young life. As we read this part of scripture, we can only imagine the struggle of mind, soul, and body that changed her and transformed her into a radical disciple. Saying yes to discipleship is not an easy task. It is usually accompanied by moments of hardship, some rejection, risk, misunderstanding, judgement, and a variety of other unflattering or hurtful things from those whose eyesight is limited. I have no doubt Mary experienced many of those moments.  We see her ‘yes’ expanding and her discipleship strengthening throughout Jesus’ life.   Her ‘yes’ opens us to the impossible becoming possible.

I have always wondered how much time passed between the visit from the angel and Mary’s ‘yes’. In scripture we hear that Mary pondered many things in her heart. I would think that this invitation to plunge into the mystery that is God and co-create with God would take some heavy duty pondering and discerning. I’m not sure any of us could make such a commitment within a ten-minute time frame. We hear the angel tell her not to be afraid which means that she was afraid. What do we do when we are afraid that a decision we have to make might not be the best thing for us? Most of us would have some measure of resistance. So did Mary. “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” The angel tries to calm her and tells her not to worry because God is in charge and will overshadow her and protect her. The next part of the story seems to move rapidly, but Mary must have needed more convincing because the next line is the angel telling her about Elizabeth, her cousin and the impossible made possible by God. Luke did not include the whole long process of pondering or resistance because in the end Mary said ‘yes’. “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”. Mary becomes very real for me when I think of her taking time to consider the invitation. She becomes even more real when she makes her journey to visit Elizabeth and see for herself if what the angel said was true. After her ‘yes’, she still needed assurance and sought out Elizabeth!

There are many times in my life where I have said ‘yes’ to God. I have uttered in my soul, “let it be done to me according to God’s will.” But I must admit that there have been times when it took quite a while to get to my ‘yes’. And even after saying ‘yes’, there are still moments of doubt or anxiety. I think all of us can relate to that. We have a God, however, who waits for us.  We have a God who smiles at our ‘yes’ but gives us the space we need to arrive at it.

Mary’s ‘yes’ changed her whole life. She birthed Jesus into the world and with that birth came salvation for the world. To what did God invite me this Advent? What will I birth into the world this Christmas? Will my ‘yes’ change me? Will I be transformed?

May I birth the impossible possibility of God and may it surprise me, change me, and transform me!

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