I am sitting in the chair that my family has named my “prayer chair,” on the Saturday morning before the third Sunday of Advent, and my mind is filled with thoughts of how quickly we are heading toward the celebration of Christmas day. I am reflecting on what this season has brought so far.
Through the days of late November and December, I have bounced between anticipation of an event or a task and the accomplishment of that event or task. The ebb and flow of working towards a goal and fulfilling that goal have been my rhythm.
In these days of Advent, I prepared for singing after experiencing some vocal fatigue, and then breathed a sigh of relief after getting through the solo. I have worked with children through the excitement of presenting a Christmas concert and have arrived at the moment of performance. I have purchased gifts that sit ready for wrapping. My almost daughter-in-law, who has studied and worked so diligently towards her goal of becoming a nurse, graduated with her BSN this week. (I am so proud of her!) Together, my family and I have celebrated birthdays and prayed with friends who are dealing with health issues in hopes of healing and wholeness.
Advent has been a series of anticipations and accomplishments. Each event or task has brought with it the work of preparation followed by the outcome.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew all too well the feeling of anticipation and accomplishment. Her expressions of anticipation are written for us in Luke 1: 46 – 55, in the passage we know as Mary’s Magnificat – her canticle of praise.
"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. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He 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."
Mary not only anticipated the birth of the baby that she was carrying, but she also looked toward what would be fulfilled through his coming. He would scatter the proud, bring down the powerful, and send the rich away empty. He would lift up the lowly, fill the hungry, and help his servant.
The cycle of anticipation and accomplishment that Mary experienced continues in our day. We walk through Advent with quiet prayers that Christ will continue to scatter the proud and fill the hungry – not just fill them but fill them with good things.
We live in this cycle because we know that Christ dwells in it with us. Christ comes to fullness in us when we surrender to his presence, and he fills us with good things. It is only when we do this that we can love and live in the ways of Christ.