Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two more days

Happy Advent,

Advent is about waiting, hoping, expecting. Being pregnant this Christmas season has made advent more special. The ideas of waiting, hoping and expecting are more real. We are so very thankful for this little baby and can't wait to meet her in March. I have been thinking about Mary's song in Luke, because we feel that "God has done great things for us" over the years and our "souls glorify him".

The church we used to attend in Oregon has an advent blog, which has been very fun to read: This is an entry from a couple days ago (

Waiting for the Messiah is full of hope, full of doubt and disappointment, and full of surprises. Those who wait can even become grumpy and demanding, a bit like they sometimes do at the grocery store when things don’t go just the way they want in the time they want. Sometimes we have to give up our expectations about how and when God should act.

In the case of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, God was slow and preposterous. Zechariah and Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah, had long since passed and mourned their child-bearing years. And now the busy angel Gabriel tells him that they’ll have a son, an important one. We can hardly blame him for stammering his objection that God was a little late on this. Perhaps it was God’s mercy to everyone that Gabriel silenced Zechariah for nine months.

In Mary’s case, God was early in fulfilling her dreams. She was engaged and looking forward to a family; being an unwed mother certainly was not part of her plan. Mary pointed out to Gabriel that all of this was happening too soon. Joseph explained this to Mary, too, before God sent an angel to offer the perfectly reasonable explanation that Mary and the Holy Spirit were, um, close.

Surely the shepherds, like a lot of Israel’s people, were eager for the Messiah to come to throw out the Roman army and deliver them from Herod’s greed and oppression. The crowd of heavenly forces singing “Glory to God” scared and surprised them, though, since the books and TV shows that specialized in predicting God’s victory never mentioned a baby lying in a feed trough. Things had been awful for as long as the shepherds could remember, and they were unlikely to be key players in the great drama. But they abandoned their disappointment, their sheep, and perhaps even their cynicism, to pursue the surprise and the promise.

In the end, Zechariah sang, “Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us….” Mary sang, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!” The shepherds “returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”

Perhaps we, too, can set loose to our schemes and dreams so that we can welcome and join in God’s work and presence. In the midst of wonder and surprise, perhaps we can say with Mary, “Let it be…just as you have said.”

Luke 1

“My soul glorifies the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones

but has lifted up the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

even as he said to our fathers.

Brad and I leave on Friday and Saturday (different flights because of frequent flier tickets) for Oregon to spend time with Brad's family. We will be able to blog and hopefully put up some fun Christmas photos.