By: Sara Merrick
Originally published: December 24, 2020
Begin with 2 minutes of silence
Luke 1:46-56 (ESV)
46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
In my first month of college I met a woman, whom I would later have the privilege of calling a dear friend, that expressed herself unlike anyone I had previously met. Her joy burst forth in Shakespearean verse, hymns, or Victorian poetry without context or apology upon entering a room. Her despair and anger escaped the prison of her being in wailed songs of lamentation or strongly-worded one-off monologues from her performing arts classes. Our conversations and group rehearsals doubled as deeply passionate performances of her experiences, bringing everyone present into a shared moment of celebration or confusion, sadness or frivolity. She shared her experience of life with an unyielding commitment and self-assurance that inspired me (and I’m sure others) to feel more fully and share myself more wholly. She was genuine all the time and I still look back at that aspect of her person as a gift.
Sharing our thoughts, experiences, and emotions with one another without editing or diluting them for the perceived comfort of the listener is unusual. Exposing ourselves so fully is often invitation for criticism and discomfort, but looking back at Mary’s, and Elizabeth’s before hers, impassioned response to how God was meeting her in that season of her life strongly reminds me of my college friend’s ability to experience and share without hesitation. Mary is not concerned here with embarrassing herself or saying the wrong thing. The gifts that God has given her are so much that she can’t help but express her gratefulness for His greatness!
God is moving in each of our lives this Advent season, just as he was moving in Mary’s 2,000+ years ago. He’s offering us a gift that is meant to be shared. He is inviting us into something new or deeper or unforeseen and He is doing so not only for us as individuals, but for us as a community of God. Jesus was surely a gift to Mary in a very personal sense, but He was also a gift to be shared that transformed the people of God. Similarly, the gifts God is offering you this Advent are given to initiate transformation not only in you, but in your whole community.
Question for Reflection
As you are slowing down to reflect on God’s invitation to you this advent season, with whom will you boldly express what God has revealed to you and how are you preparing yourself to genuinely share this gift, without dilution?
Lord, I thank You for the gift of community. I thank You that I am not the only one receiving an invitation from you this season. I humbly ask for boldness to share what you have revealed to me and gentleness to receive what You have revealed to my community. Amen.
End with 2 minutes of silence