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Attending to Advent: Mary, Elizabeth & Abram

December 10, 2008

Reference:  Luke 1:39-49

Reflecting on this section of Scripture I was drawn toward several things.

Mary and Elizabeth… we don’t know exactly where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived, but we do now it was a Judean town in the hill country (vs. 39) and we do know that Mary lived in Nazareth in Galilee.  Pull out the map and you can figure that Mary had some traveling to do to go to Elizabeth’s home.  It is safe to say that although Luke mentions only Mary going to see Elizabeth, Mary did not travel alone.

Perhaps this is hidden in the text but as we attend to Advent we recognize the context of Mary’s life was within community.  She was not alone, she was with others.  She was in community — it may have been a small community but there were people she was safe with and counted upon during these months of waiting.

The theme of “blessing” is evident as was referenced this past Sunday in my faith community.  The connection of blessing and obedience is strong throughout Scripture.  I confess for much of my Christian life I saw blessing as illusive because I so often recognized my own inability to “obey,” or what I thought was obedience.  How often do we see obedience only through the lens of perfection and outcome?  Is not the heart — our motive, our desire, our reason underneath what God is most concerned with?  When we weigh this, we quickly realize this is no “laughing matter.”  The beauty is that God sees our heart, understands our thoughts, our efforts (even when we are confused and sorting) and as Creator is capable of sifting and sorting.  Walking with God enables us within the community of the Trinity to allow the transformation of our heart.  Walking with others in community is to be in companionship.  We share our journey of life and faith with God and with others.

Blessing is not only something we receive, it is also intended for others.  Vs. 45, records Elizabeth’s exclamation, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” In Genesis 12:2-3 we have these startling words from God to Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Several years later, God again speaks to Abram affirming the promise.  Genesis 15:6 “And he (Abram) believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” There is this profound sense of the promise of God weaving through the tapestry of blessing.  Faith and obedience are threads woven together.

I found myself wondering, asking the Lord if there is something promised, yet unfulfilled that I am to attend to.  Waiting with faith merges together with promise, assurance, obedience, and action.  I’d like it to be “neat and tidy.”  But it is not.  Where does that take us?  Into reliance.  Reliance on God is anything but passive.  It means letting go of false support systems that provide self-identity outside of what God says about me.  Mary had to do this, as did Elizabeth and Zechariah, as did Joseph.  As do we.  We can celebrate Mary and Mary’s song of praise becomes ours…

“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 Might One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49).

Hope and peace to you.

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