Posted by: LakeIris | December 8, 2009

Advent and Great Expectations

Pregnancy.It’s been on my mind a lot lately.Why?Well, in the span of less than 12 months, friends Liz, Krysta, Neatz, Jill, Janelle, Michelle, Hannah, Trish, Beth, Amanda and Victoria have all been or are pregnant. And I’ve heard about three more in the past two days. We’ve even had two pregnancies on staff at my school this year, three if you count Matt’s Kate.Some had their babies in the past couple months, many are due in the next six weeks, and Krysta, my best friend in Melbourne is due two days after I leave for Michigan next week.

And it’s Advent.The last few weeks I’ve had rich discussions about Mary and Elizabeth’s stories as told in the book of Luke.About how long Elizabeth had waited and longed to be pregnant.How Zechariah’s response to the news indicates they’d pretty much given up hope a long time ago.How in the world’s eyes, in Jewish culture, her barrenness was one of the worst possible tragedies.How in the world’s eyes, Mary’s situation was equally tragic.Unmarried and pregnant, she could expect to be an outcast, her reputation ruined forever.

But not through God’s eyes. God’s plan was for Elizabeth to have a child who would ‘be called prophet of the Most High.’ And even more incredibly, God planned for Mary to have the child who would ‘be called the Son of the Most High.’

All of this pregnancy, longing, excitement, anticipation and preparation.But the part that sticks with me most is Mary’s response to Gabriel’s news.Not a disbelieving “How can I be sure of this?” like Zechariah.But “How can this happen?” Yes, a rather practical “So, how’s this going to work, exactly?”“I’m the Lord’s servant, may it be as you have said.”

I think we can say with a high degree of certainty that Mary’s life did not turn out as she expected.

In Isaiah 54, the prophet is comparing to Israel as a barren woman, much like Elizabeth.

“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

In the midst of tragedy, barrenness, the Lord says, Sing!Cheer!Go crazy with hysterical joy!It might make you ask, “Why?”The answer comes.I’ve got something for you that is even greater than all the children any one Jewish mother could ever bring into the world.Life may not be what you hoped.But I’ve got some news for you that is going to overwhelm your barrenness, your shame.

Advent is a time of waiting.A time of longing.Your life may not be what you hoped.It might bear little resemblance to what you’d envisioned. This is certainly true of me.And when I am told, reminded or encouraged to trust in God, I may try, but somewhat grudgingly.I may be willing to admit that since God is God, he should be Lord of my life, but sometimes I have a very hard time accepting that what God has planned for my life is not just better ‘because he’s God, that’s why.’No, it’s beyond my wildest dreams better.It’s, “you’re part of something much, much bigger than you can comprehend” better.

Trust me.Over and over again, God whispers this into our ears.Trust me.I’m your loving Father.Trust me.I will bring you back.Trust me.I will have compassion on you.Trust me.My unfailing love will never be shaken.Trust me.

During these last couple weeks of Advent, take some time to consider what you may be expecting…longing for…waiting for…and offer them to God whose power will overwhelm them.Because it is the same for us as for Mary.God has also chosen us to bring Christ to the world.May we learn to trust this as Mary did.

I’ll never have the power to control the land, or conquer half the world or claim the sun;

I’ll never be the kind who simply waves her hand and has a million people do the things I wish I’d done.

But in the eyes of heaven, my place is assured.I carry with me heaven’s grand design.

“Gloria! Gloria!” I will sing the name of the Lord, and He will make me shine.

And I will be like Mother Mary with a blessing in my soul, and I will give the world my eyes so they can see.

And I will be like Mother Mary with a blessing in my soul, and the future of the world inside of me.

And I will be like Mother Mary with the power in my veins to believe in all the things I’ve yet to be!

And I will be like Mother Mary and I’ll suffer any pains…for the future of the world, inside of me.

“Christmas Lullaby” from Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown


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