An Advent devotion for December 1st
*Behold, the Lord comes to save us. O come, let us worship Him. (Advent Invitatory from Treasury of Daily Prayer)
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:15-18)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” There is no adequate way for me to convey what these words of Mary’s to the angel Gabriel have meant and spoken to me over the past two years. When God put this passage from Luke in front of me as a Lectio Divina devotion while on a silent retreat, He took hold of my heart in a whole new way that has made it utterly impossible for me to be content continuing with “life as normal.” I knew God desired to birth something in and through me, but what had begun growing inside of me was still veiled to my eyes and my mind.
On that cold day at the beginning of the new year, my eyes fell upon these words on display at the retreat center:
We are all meant to be Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.
I sat with those words and let their truth soak into my soul.
God was preparing my heart for pregnancy and birth, but not in the traditional sense of a baby growing in my womb. No, this time He wanted to birth something in and through me that would bring life in an entirely different way to people outside my immediate family. What was He doing?
True to preganancy, I have had to let this sit and grow for a couple of years now. I say “I,” but I actually mean “we.” This completely includes and involves Michael, but the truth is that I can only share with you what God has been speaking and doing within me. I have watched what He has done with my husband, and we have shared this journey together, praying and talking and praying and talking…and waiting and trusting and waiting and trusting. But I can only share the intimate details of my own soul. He will have to share his own. What I can tell you is that I take great joy in watching my husband literally LIGHT UP when he is working with refugees–especially children. There is no doubt in my mind God wired him for such a ministry and has called him to this.
As I have pondered and waited on God, I have asked Jesus to help me understand His mother’s heart more. I want to learn how Mary was able to trust, to wait, to endure scandal, to believe when no one else around her did. I can hardly wait to get to heaven and have a long cup of coffee with her and hear all. Until then, I ask Jesus to impart just a glimpse at least of this understanding…this knowing.
What might God want to birth in and through you this Advent? Ask Him. And then be ready with your heart to respond as Mary did:
“Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done unto me according to thy word.”