December 7, 2007


I'm standing near the edge of the Advent story, waiting open-endedly, desiring to fall into the story.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for years to have a baby. They trusted, yet waited in seeming silence for so long (makes me think of the current Mother Teresa story that's been written and talked about everywhere I turn around). Can I wait like that with no little glimpse or ahah or anything?! In today's world we'd do something. I know many who are paying thousands to try and get pregnant, and I would join them too, if I were there.

The angel came saying, "Do not be afraid for your prayer has been heard". And I sometimes like to respond, "Well it's about time!" God so often works that way. I often ask him, "Why do you wait till the last minute?...Why wait till we're scraping the bottom of the barrel?...Why, when we've come to the end of our rope and beyond?" And there's been times I beg "I don't need a Damascus road bolt of light, but couldn't I have just a wimpy candle light, for a glimmer of hope? Just a tiny something to show there's an end to this tunnel?"

And then the angel comes to young Mary. It's beyond my imagining how I'd feel. Israel has been waiting for this promise for many years and Mary is the one. How much storytelling of the promise was carried on through the generations? Though Mary was shaken, she understood, and was willing - "Let it be with me just as you say". (Along with all the Jewish training and tradition, I've wondered if the thought entered her head that she could be stoned to death?!)

Mary was saying, "I don't know what this all means, but I trust that good things will happen." She trusted so deeply that her waiting was open to all possibilities. And she did not want to control them.

She immediately went to her cousin Elizabeth, who's baby leaped in her womb. They waited together. Mary's visit made Elizabeth aware of what she was waiting for. They affirmed for each other that something was happening that was worth waiting for.

This too I've learned - the value of community. Alone, I have mono-vision. Sure I can stand on the shoulder's of those who've gone before me in all I read, which adds to that vision. But community, (as Bonhoeffer said is a 'gift') can add to the seeing, hearing, stereo! I may not feel like worshipping, but those around help me see the bigger picture outside of my small self.

And I do trust that baby's leap for joy, knowing that incarnate God was in Mary's womb. Faith is the 'yes' of the heart. That doesn't mean there's no doubts, or pain, or hunger and thirsting. I know the darkness of the womb. And I've experienced the pain and then newness of birth. That's my 'yes', my willingness to trust God's guidance and grace.

Christmas is God's promise: God came in history, and comes daily in mystery. God goes on enfleshing spirit and inspiriting flesh.

So I wait, trying to be present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen, new things far beyond my imagination or prediction.
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