In the season of Advent, the lessons all remind us that God acts in a mighty way. Not just in 1st century Bethlehem, but in the teaching of the Old Testament prophets and in the early church. God still acts today. When we are aware and expectant we can see that.
We like to pretend that we control our destiny-but it is God who acts. “Man proposes, God disposes” as the saying goes. As noted back on the first Sunday of Advent, Expect is an active word-from the root meaning to look or to see. When we Expect God-we look for God in our life and in the lives of those around. When we look for God, we will see God at work.
In this Advent season we often hear sermons about Mary and how she said “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) We are reminded to be as obedient and willing to serve as Mary. What we don’t hear as much about is how courageous Mary was in her willing response. For me, this Annunciation by John Collier captures some of that fear, as Mary seems to hold herself back from Gabriel. Yet, she ultimately doesn't question or refuse. Mary says 'Yes' to God.
Jim Trainor recently said, “Even in her fear, Mary says Yes. You see, courage isn’t not being afraid. Courage is not letting your fear stop you from saying, ‘Yes.’”
How do we say ‘yes’ to the Living God? As passive spectators or active participants? Rachel Naomi Remen (A Time for Listening and Caring) says, “Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.” To me this represents a paradigm shift in thinking. We serve because we are working alongside God for world that God called into being and said “It is Good”. I think Remen is correct in saying that fixing and helping are the ‘work of the ego’ because we cannot and should not think we can ‘correct’ or ‘improve on’ God’s work. We can be stewards and co-workers in the vineyard.
Trainor continues in his blog, “God challenges us today – like he did Mary – to get out of our comfort zone, way out of our comfort zone. He challenges us to keep following that little baby that Mary brought into the world – and that means being vehicles of his healing and restoration and rescue and reconciliation.”
None of us know what 2014 will bring. We can be assured that God is going to continue to act and that we who wait on God with expectation will find opportunities-new and old-to respond ‘yes’.
I wish each of you, my readers, a blessed Christmas and a Holy New Year. I hope you will continue to stop by from time to time to see what's happening with this blog and with my books. It's hard to fathom that 6 years have slid by posting to this blog, on a weekly (sometimes more often) basis! I pray that sometime in those years my words have touched a chord in some reader and will do so in the future.