by Sarah Steinberg
Stores have been preparing for months. Children start scoping out toy catalogs and lists are being made. In my house the day after Thanksgiving is the day that the boxes come out of the basement and the decorations start going up. Christmas is coming!
Last Sunday was actually the start of the advent season. Advent is the few weeks before Christmas that we start preparing for the birth of Jesus. There is a lot of preparing that happens at Christmas. We prepare decorations and gift lists, for parties and festivities we only do once a year. These are all things that mark the season. They are a big deal and we spend time getting ready. But recently I keep thinking, am I really prepared? Not just for the decorating and parties but am I really ready to say yes to this amazing thing- when the Christ comes a little closer to this place again this year.
What do you do to start getting ready for the birth of Jesus? Do you think about mangers and sheep and what it would have been like to be born in a stable? Kinda gross probably- not my first choice. Do you think about what a dangerous time it must have been? All those people with such great expectations? Some who want Jesus to save them- be their king and yet they stare into the face of a child and are confused and doubt. I think I would too.
I often think about the already but not yet-ness of Christ. We know he’s come and is coming and will come again. That he’s here with us now and will come again, both in our celebration and remembrance of the gift of the Christ child born in a manager but we also prepare for the coming of Christ in the future as we continue to prepare his kingdom here on Earth.
It’s all a little confusing and yet- I sometimes wonder if I just go through the motions of Christmas. If faced with the same challenges as Mary and Joseph- would I let go, and say yes?
There’s Something about Mary
So… here we have a girl, likely 13-15 years of age. She’s a peasant and she’s engaged to a pretty religious guy. An angelic figure visits her saying that she’s found favor with God and is going to conceive a son by the Holy Spirit.
I’m not sure about you but I think I’d be a little freaked out. We don’t think a lot about Mary until it’s time to dust off the little figurine for the nativity. This week I started thinking about Mary and what she had to say ‘Yes’ to and what she had to let go of.
I think Mary deserves our attention for at least a moment because in her we see what casting our lot with and being blessed by God really looks like. Namely that being blessed means seeing God in the world and trusting that God is at work even in things we can’t see, or understand, or imagine.
Mary saying “God, I’m yours. Let’s do this thing.” She said yes.
She didn’t say yes because she thought by doing so God was going to shower her with cash and prizes. No. Here’s where this girl had some serious chops. She got something I really struggle to understand: that getting a blessing is not the same as getting a present. She said yes not based on the expectation of things being awesome for her but based on the expectation that God can create something out of nothing.
“Ok, I don’t understand what’s going on and I know that my life isn’t going to end up looking like one I would choose out of a catalogue but I trust that God is at work in all of it.”
Blessedness is being used for God’s purpose more than it’s getting what I want or things being easy.
That yes she gave was fierce!
Christmas itself isn’t about getting what you want, or making sure you’re giving others what they want. To experience Christmas is to trust that God can do this thing again. God can again be born in me, in you, in this broken mess of a gorgeous world.
A Meditation Moment
Shane and Shane- Yearn
Try Out A New Mantra
This week I will say YES! I am being used by God.
May the God through whom nothing is impossible help you to be like Mary….saying a fierce, or timid, or quiet, or confident yes.