Ahhhh…quiet time. Just me, my Bible, and a scripture guide, in a chapel with some candles and a couple of other people quietly sitting and pondering as well. Just one objective: to let the scripture speak to me and guide me at this beginning of the Advent season. A season in which followers of The Way expect and prepare for the coming of Christ. What would God, the Creator of all, say to me or show me today?
The first reading we were guided to was Luke 1:28-38. In this beautiful section of the Book of Luke, an angel has come to Mary to tell her she will bear the Son of God. Verse 30 struck an immediate chord with me. “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” I found myself thinking about this past year and how tough it has been, with opportunities to be afraid many times throughout the year. A year of challenges, disillusionment and departures. I felt more challenged by God that favored – by a long shot! I wondered what it must have been like to actually hear the words, “you have found favor with God.” I felt a longing to physically hear those words as well. Yet in my heart, I knew that I also have found favor with God. After all, it seems like any of the people written about in the Bible who were favored by God . . . well, they did not have simple-dimple, easy-peasy lives. They often had tough challenges. I think of the prophets, the apostles, the kings, etc., etc. Suck it up, Princess Kathy! God’s favor might look a lot different that the favor of mankind.
Mary asked the angel how she could possibly conceive and give birth to the Son of the Most High since she was a virgin, and the angel replies . . . “…the Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” All I could think was that seems like a technically deficient answer. In my head, I would probably be thinking, “Okey dokey, so, you say the Holy Spirit will come on me and God will overshadow me, and I will be pregnant. Hmmmm. . . this was not covered in any discussions I’ve had with mom, aunties, or my sex ed teacher.” I think I might have had just a few more questions; but Mary simply obeys.
I read that part over and over again, and began to realize that just as God and the Holy Spirit preceded Christ in Mary, so they precede Christ in us. And though Christ physically grew inside Mary, he grows inside us in a different way, as we get to know him, and tend our relationship with him, and allow ourselves to be discipled by him. How I long, in a sense, to be pregnant with Jesus – bursting at the seams with his love. I could only imagine how difficult, yet rewarding, that would be, and I longed for that. I thought of many times when it was clear that Christ was hidden deep inside; the very opposite of bursting at the seams.
The first week of Advent is the week of “Hope”. My hope is that my love and desire for Jesus grows and that he becomes so evident in me that I appear “pregnant” with him and that to identify me as anything other than his disciple would be impossible.