In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Holy One, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for Abba has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is Abba’s name. Abba’s mercy is for those who fear from generation to generation. Abba has shown strength with his arm; Abba has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. Abba has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; Abba has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. Abba has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
Earlier this week I discovered an old CD that I have not listened to in probably 8 years. It was not something really cool like Prince’s Lovesexy or James Brown’s Soul on Top. It wasn’t even an Iron Maiden album. I found a CD by an old friend.
It is a Christian worship album. It is not quite Michael W. Smith but it is not Sam Cooke and the Soul-Stirrers. My life was populated with contemporary Christian music, Christian bumper stickers, and any outward symbol that I could bling on my speeding and weaving truck. I was a billboard for Jesus.
I bought and sold all things Christian. If I wanted to listen to any music at all it need to be blatantly Christian. I ditched the Iron Maiden, the Prince, and James Brown for Carmen, Stryper, and snuck a little James Brown, but I prayed for forgiveness for doing so.
I played that discovered album as I drove around the city. Memories flooded back. Good memories. My mind returned to the first youth group I served. All of their faces smiled back at me. The anxiety of finding a way in a broken world returned and I remembered how important it was to me that everyone be a believer and that everyone attended church.
I reflected on how my life has changed and how my beliefs have changed over the last decade. I am no longer bound up in the idea that I must save everyone. That’s God’s job. I no longer believe that there is one way to follow God. I no longer have anxiety or fear death. I no longer subscribe to the notion that I must brand all that I do to the Christian entertainment complex nor can I leave my faith life at the bumper of my car.
Mary is transitioning too. Mary, the teenage Theotokos [The God-Bearer], is brilliantly emerging from her circumstances and embodying her newly acquired faith. Mary proclaims, “My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!”
This is the last Sunday of Advent. The waiting is almost over! The Christ-child is drawing near. Mary’s pregnant stomach holds the savior of all creation. The swaddled infant Jesus is readying to be born in a manger by a teenage Mary. Singing with confidence and glee, calling out to the magnificence of Abba.
Can you imagine the anticipation Mary must have? She is 2 days from giving birth. She’s on the back of a donkey headed towards Bethlehem.
Wait, Christmas Eve is tomorrow. That can’t be. How did Christmas get here so fast? Where did 2012 go? Christmas is a mere 48 hours away.