by Rev. Cynthia Weems, FUMC Miami, FL
First, read Luke 1:26-56
For many years I believed God wanted to see me as a spotless, shiny plate in a china cabinet. I was a tomboy and spent lots of time in ponytails and dirty tennis shoes. I enjoyed jumping on the trampoline with my sister and playing baseball with my brother. However, on Sunday mornings, I got all dressed up in pretty shoes, a pretty dress, with combed (and washed!) hair and a bow on top. Going through that ritual every week must have helped to instill in me a sense that God preferred me all dressed up and smelling nice.
It wasn't until some years later that I began to see God at work in my life even when I wasn't all dressed up. It took some time, but it became abundantly clear to me that God does not see me as a plate in a china cabinet but rather as a ball of Play-dough or Silly Putty, an instrument of God’s purposes. God does not see me as a creation to be kept spotless and clean and without blemish. God knows that I am a creation that is fully human and, therefore, full of as much pain as joy. If I were spotless all the time, I would not need God. But as a willing, faithful disciple in God’s hand, I am ready for God to go to work -- shaping me into the person I am called to be, blemishes and all.
In Luke 1, Mary (a most unlikely candidate for giving birth to the Messiah) proclaims, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Mary offered her life into the hands of God for the purposes God imagined and dreamed for her. God doesn't need us all dressed up and spotless in order to do miraculous and wondrous things in our lives. God simply needs us to have a willing spirit. Won’t you join me in praying for that willing and joyful spirit this season?
O God, in this season of Advent, create in me a willing heart, ready to receive your will for me with joy. Amen.
Today, we focus on the story of Mary, the young girl who God chose to be the mother of the Lord Jesus. Young and afraid, Mary was scared and overwhelmed when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her what was to come. Yet, even her fears, she welcomed what was to come and gave thanks to God for such a blessing. And God, in God’s abundance, provided her cousin Elizabeth for strength and companionship during the difficult months of pregnancy and skepticism from Mary’s community. Elizabeth affirmed Mary’s blessings and offered Mary the support and affirmation she needed at a vulnerable time. She reminded Mary of the blessedness of being a part of the love story of God and humanity. And with this reminder, we are gifted with the beautiful words of what has come to be known as Mary’s song of thanksgiving and praise to God.
Read the story of Mary from Luke 1:26-56 and talk about it together with your children. What do you think Mary was feeling after such an announcement? How was Elizabeth able to be there for Mary to provide support and remind her of her blessedness?
In honor of each day in Advent, make a list of twenty-six reasons why your family is blessed on small pieces of paper. Tuck these papers into your Christmas tree or place them in a mason jar to save for later. Whatever you do with them, be sure to give thanks for the many shapes and forms of blessing God sends our way.
How have you been blessed by participating in the love story of God and humanity? How can we, like Elizabeth, remind and offer blessing to others?