Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent: The Wondering

photo by Holly Hayes / flickr

She came home with a smile and a little smirk. "Guess what?" she said. "I'm pregnant. We're pregnant." I don't know what I said--but it took my breath away. Pregnant. What did it mean? What does it mean? We were, together, moving into unchartered waters. I know it sounds dramatic to you seasoned ones who had forgotten when you first got your news. But for us newcomers--well--it was joyous and scary and we did not know what lay ahead. And the waiting. Nine months. Why that is almost a year! Will my wife be all right? Will the baby be all right? We don't have much money. And what does this total change in everything--really mean? We were moving, slowly--ever so slowly--into unchartered waters--and we just did not know.

And once upon a time the book says that this little girl--maybe not even sixteen--was told she was pregnant. The word came not from the doctor but, for God's sake, from an angel. Angel? She had never even thought about an angel--and that strange day--the angel came bearing this news. And she, too like us was moving into unchartered waters. And like us she did not know what it meant. Her worries were many. What would her parents say? We were never told. What would Joseph, her betrothed say? What would the neighbors say?

The angel said two things. "You are not to be afraid." And your cousin who has prayed for a child so long--she too is pregnant. And then the angel said this second thing."With God all things are possible." Mary thought it was a miracle that Cousin Elizabeth was expecting after all her barren years. Maybe all things really were possible. Even, she thought, even if you have not been with a man. Surely these were unchartered waters.

And so after all these years we come back to the story that never grows old. It is star-filled. It is wonder-filled. It is downright unbelievable because it goes against everything we know. Little girls do not get pregnant by themselves. Old women, too old for a baby--found prayers she left off long ago-- now answered! Impossible.

What does it mean as we still move into unchartered waters. This baby of Mary's turned the world upside down--or maybe right side up. Into a world of hate and poverty and unimaginable cruelty--two babies--Mary's and Elizabeth's came. Does it say anything to us? Dear God, I hope so. If God places down on our doorstep this promise of new life and new hope and star-filled, wonder-filled news--could he still turn things upside down or right side up? Sounds really crazy.

We, after all these years, need to remember two things the angel said. We are not to be afraid. And with God all things are possible. Help us to place all our fears and shames and worries before this Christ-child. Let us reaffirm the truth we have often disbelieved: with God all things are possible.

So much is so complicated in our time. Personally, nationally--internationally. Let us hold on to these two promises beside our troubled lives and time. Let us know, deep in our hearts, the One who never leaves and never forsakes comes to this time and to our time. If it is really true--Advent says there is a whole lot more in store for us than we can even imagine. Also we put aside all these worries about us and our country and our world. We put aside all the headlines and heart-breaks that are real. We will not deny them or evade them. We will work even harder for peace and justice. But we will also put all these things all down beside this good, good news which the angel still brings.  And despite incredible odds--deep in our hearts we will believe.

"Do not be afraid."
"With God all things are possible."

photo by Cinzia Bazzanelle/ flickr

--Roger Lovette /

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