It has never been harder to encourage sustained spiritual
behaviors among people who are attracted to The Way Jesus
blazed. Your reading this devotional is a minority activity, probably
even among the members and friends of your church and
family—not that this series of reflections is the be-all and endall
of spiritual wisdom. They are an offering from your fellow
sojourners on The Way, to help focus your attention on the small
child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the
rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, and all that came
before and after to the present moment of your reading.
Wow! Is it ever hard to cut through the clutter and noise and
info bits and videos and pics and whatnot and hooha! We find
it hard to sit still, quietly, intentionally, prayerfully, allowing
ourselves the holy luxury of spiritual perplexity in the manner
of Mary and a time for “pondering.” It requires seemingly enormous
energy to construct a spiritual discipline that returns us
to the heart of life each and every day. Our time consumed by
many trifles, we leave little in reserve for the things that matter
most of all hiding in plain sight but lacking the snap-crackle of
Instagram and Snapchat flicking across our consciousness like a
stone skipping on water.
Is it my imagination or is there an epidemic of adult ADHD
on the horizon? Enduring relationships require focus, energy,
commitment, attention, time—including spiritual relationships
with self, others, and God.
How can we ever find the wherewithal to leap into the
realm of God’s imagination, especially at this crazy-making time
of year? I am relieved to read that for all our haphazard attempts
at keeping our eye on the manger, Gabriel assures us that nothing
will be impossible with God.
Sit quietly for five minutes in a state of spiritual perplexity, marveling at the incomprehensibility of Incarnation—Emmanuel, God with us.
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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