Leaning into Advent

The turkey (and people) have been stuffed and we’re off to the next big season… Advent! That’s right, it’s not Christmas yet. Despite the lights, shopping, and fluctuating Holiday plans, we still have the work of Advent to do.

More precisely, we have waiting and preparing, but that isn’t passive or busy work to fill the time. It’s meaningful, hard, and joyful work that allows us to live fully into God’s vision and our roles in it. This good work is outlined by Mary when she reacts to the news that she will bear the Son of God:

  1. Embrace mystery:  Mary, revered for her faith, begins by questioning it: “How will this happen…?” God’s messenger answers her, without breaking down the scientific processes or intellectual hurdles that Mary and many of us face, saying, “Nothing is impossible for God.” Mary doesn’t leave with all the answers, but she embraces that the author of existence is unknowable, delighting in mystery.

  2. Say yes!:  Mary’s response is enthusiastic, “I am the Lord’s servant!” Bearing Jesus is no small task for a teenager to agree to. As Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster note in The Godbearing Life, “God did not choose a teenager to bear salvation to the world by accident. Who else would agree to such a plan?” This was the secret behind our recent Youth Sunday. We asked youth to do incredible things believing they would say yes, and they did!

  3. Have community:  When the angel leaves, Mary drops everything to be with Zechariah and Elizabeth.” It’s an abrupt yet clear action. Community is where we belong. It’s where we can rejoice in life and God.

  4. Worship:  Finally, Mary prays a glorious and beautiful prayer. It’s no accident that she not only embraces God, but God’s vision and her role in it. Worship helps us understand that vision so that we can live it fully in our own lives. 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, The promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Amen.

John Putnam
Youth & Children Minister