Every parent who has been present at their child’s birth will tell a variation on the same experience: the most amazing thing ever! Words cannot contain the range of emotion. I well remember the birth of my firstborn who is now thirty-six years old. When a nurse handed Luke to me immediately after delivery, I said aloud, “Well, all right! Here you are! So be it! Whatever happens, you are mine and I am yours; you will be a gift for certain!” And we have had many adventures ever since that continue to unfold in ways that could never have been known or predicted, yet inevitably led to a wondrous gratitude.
Given my gender, I can only marvel at the experience of a child leaping in the womb; but the awesomeness of life begetting life is among the most spectacular facets of human self-awareness. Advent is all about this elemental aspect of existence—a celebration of life, the begetting of life, the promise of life, and the gift of life abundant for all!
Elizabeth and Mary, the mothers of John and Jesus, experience this wonderment, this promise of life ahead. They cannot know the paths their sons will travel, that their lives as well as their deaths will forever point to a future imbued with hope.
Death leading to hope points to the paradoxical nature of the season. We know the trajectory of the lives these men will lead, yet here’s the thing: Though headed for brutal deaths they remain beacons of hope for life abundant. That is the mystery that holds the key to the door of faith—faith in our God of life that inevitably leads to a wondrous gratitude.
Holy One, surely you are the God of life, the one who makes things that are out of things that are not. What an awesome, grace-filled awareness we have been given! All praise to you! Amen.
Second Samuel 7 extols Yahweh’s choice of the family of David as the extraordinary vehicle for divine salvation. God now plans to do a new and unparalleled thing in the life of humankind. Mary’s song of wonder from Luke 1 serves as the psalm selection. It centers on her realization that human life will now never be the same. In the epistle reading, Paul rejoices that by the power of God the times are what they are. In the Gospel text, Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear the “Son of God.” Overwhelmed by both the holiness and the enormity of the moment, Mary nonetheless consents to the will of God as brought by God’s messenger.
• Read 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16. Respond to the author’s question, “How shall we interpret good fortune or bad from the perspective of God’s good care for us?”
• Read Luke 1:47-55. How do you learn to embrace the mystery of holy time in the commonplace events of your day?
• Read Romans 16:25-27. How has God’s love shown through Jesus Christ proved to be an antidote to your fears?
• Read Luke 1:26-38. Where do you see the “lowly lifted up and the hungry filled with good things”? How can you participate in that gracious work of God? What fears can you name before God?
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