ADVENT 4B: The Holiest of Words

Lectionary Gospel Text:  Luke 1: (26-27) 28-38
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Of course, this was not in the plan.  She was supposed to get married, have children, and live our her life in quiet anonymity with the quiet and little-known Joseph.  She knew what her life was going to hold. So, when God’s Presence suddenly is revealed, breaking into her quietly-orchestrated little world, of course she was afraid.  After all, things were never going to be the same.  There would be no going back and the way forward was murky at best.  And so, Mary hesitates, if only for a moment.  The angel, God, all of Creation, the existence of all who would come after her, hangs, suspended, not moving.  The world stops, straining to hear the Word. Things would never be the same again.  History was at this moment shifting and swaying, not sure of what it would become.  So, she takes a breath–one last breath as the quiet girl Mary.  And with a voice that shakes all of eternity, she responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  “YES.”  Nothing would ever be the same again.

On some level, the word “Yes” is perhaps the holiest word of all. It is what changes things; it is what moves us forward; it is our response on this journey that we call faith; it is our way to God.  God calls us, asking us to go a different way, to change our lives and shift our plans, and for one step, or one lifetime, or one eternity, to follow a sacred road that we did not see before.  For this child Mary, when the mystery of God broke into her consciousness, into her plans, she probably did hesitate.  Good grief, who wouldn’t?  Don’t you think God expects that to be our initial response?  I mean, you’d have to be completely naive or so incredibly self-absorbed and arrogant to not know what was happening to you.  But Mary was anything but naive and nothing near arrogant.  She DID know.  Oh, not the details.  She didn’t know how this would alter not only her world, not only her community, but all worlds and communities that ever were and ever would be. She didn’t know how difficult and frustrating her life would be.  She didn’t know that a little more than three decades later, she would be standing at the foot of two cross-boards helplessly watching this life that she was bringing into the world slip away.  She didn’t know how incredibly blessed she would be.  She didn’t know what she would become–the lovely subject of artists and sculptors, the namesake of great cathedrals and small house churches, the mother of the world.  She didn’t know.  She just knew that it was the way that was hers.  So, yes. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Christmas Eve is only a week away, when the wildly spinning world will stop, if only for a moment and once again welcome hope and peace into the world.  But that moment is not the holiest one.  The holiest moment of all is the one that comes next, the one that after the initial hesitation, after the initial, “How can this be?”, when we put down our carefully-packed baggage filled with plans and preconceptions, when we open our closed minds and and our cynical hearts, and become virgin enough to birth the Christ into our little world.  It is the moment when we say “Yes”, knowing that it will change us forever. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

(“Let it Be”, Words by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, 1970)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X_Gd1y2MFo&feature=related

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

 
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of being virgin enough to move forward, of being open to birthing the Christ into your life, of forming the holy and the sacred on your lips and then speaking the “Yes” that God and the whole world is waiting for you to speak.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

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