Friday, December 2, 2011
Rector's Dec newsletter article: A Seed is Planted
I love this time of year, and no – I’m not a shopper. Ask anyone who knows me. Shopping is not my thing. What I love is this period of time between the knowledge of a new thing about to come and its coming.
I remember, when I became pregnant with my first child, that I couldn’t wait until I could wear maternity clothes so everyone would know what I knew – that a new life was being formed in me. By my third child, I couldn’t wait to get rid of those maternity clothes, but that’s another article :)
Advent is the time between the prophetic proclamation of John the Baptist and the Nativity - the knowledge that new life was coming into the world and the coming of that new life. A transforming moment in this story happens at the Annunciation to Mary – the moment Mary gave her consent to God to serve as the God-bearer and bring the Word into the world.
I have often wondered what Mary felt as she carried this new life in her body - new life that was different from anything anyone had ever known; new life that would change all life forevermore, but especially hers. She knew that her life was going to change and take a direction she had not imagined, and for which she couldn’t fully prepare. She knew that the hope of her people – in fact, the hope of all people – was being formed in her womb. Bearing that hope to the world would require much from Mary: humility, courage, faith, perseverance, and a life prayerfully devoted to the will of God.
The same is required from us today. Each year as we cycle through the liturgical calendar, we come to this place at the end of the year, when the cultural frenzy (focused mostly on shopping) hits us. Our lives get extremely busy with parties, gatherings, and yes… shopping. At the same time, the church season calls us to slow down, to wait, to listen with expectation for the new thing God is doing in our lives.
A seed is planted in us each Advent. Our practice of Advent is meant to nurture this seed so that it bears fruit in us, and through us into the world. We may not be giving birth to the Incarnate Word, but we are just as much bearers of God today, and the demand on us is the same: humility, courage, faith, perseverance, and a life prayerfully devoted to the will of God.
We know, here at Redeemer, how scary and uncomfortable change can be. Over these last couple of years, we have experienced being called to change more than we want to at times, and less than we want to at other times. We have been experiencing a rebirth here and it continues to carry us forward into new life.
As much as we’ve accomplished – which is a LOT – our liturgical calendar tell us it’s Advent again, so we know that God isn’t finished with us yet. God is once again planting a seed of hope in this community of faith that needs nourishing so that it can bear fruit in us, and through us, into the world. As we wait together in this common pregnancy, I offer you this prayer-poem written by my vestry at St. Mary’s in Cadillac, MI. It was shared at our last meeting together and it inspires me still. I offer it to you as an Advent meditation:
"Hope is a state of mind not dictated by what appears to be:
built on faith.
We look beyond the fear,
and begin to trust what we do not yet know.
We must listen with love,
for though we prepare and plan
and strive to organize,
God will take us in a new direction,
a re-birth beyond our comprehension.
With prayerful work
be true to who we are
as we trust and continue in God’s love
and become truly ourselves."
May God bless us and lavish grace upon us as we practice our Advent together, nurturing the seed that has been planted in us, that we might joyfully consent to bear its fruit into the world in the year to come.