Merry, Merry Christmas (a day or two late) to you my friends!
I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday, filled with Jesus, family, good food, and good times. In the past few years I have come to appreciate the advent season more and more; which is kind of interesting because I don’t think I even knew what “advent” was before I began attending my current church. It just was not part of the lingo or tradition that I remember growing up. When I came to Cornerstone however, celebrating the coming of Jesus suddenly was not just a one day thing, but instead whole advent season to prepare for and celebrate Emmanuel.
Advent is a time of anticipation to me. We as the church anticipate God coming to be with us. We anticipate that one day Christ will return and bring justice, grace, and love forever to our world. The work will be done.
This year I have been thinking a lot about Mary, about birth, about my pregnant friends, and about what the Advent season of anticipation can uniquely mean for women. God showed women such a huge amount of respect by choosing to make a virgin pregnant with his/her Son, and having our savior spend nine months gestating like all the rest of us. At the time of Jesus’ birth discrimination against, and disrespect for, women was pervasive (but isn’t it always unfortunately). Even though women carried babies and bore them, they were not considered to have anything to do with the child’s creation. Believing that nothing good could come from women, society held that men planted the full human “seed” through their semen. So in the midst of this incredibly sexist society God chose to trust a woman with his/her Son. He could have brought Jesus here any way. Jesus could just have appeared… perhaps fully grown. But instead God chose to honor women and throw all the discriminatory nonsense on head by not having a male ‘s semen involved in the most famous birth of all history.
Having just finished reading about fifty birth stories this past week in “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” I have come away with even more appreciation for the female body, and awareness that women’s bodies can be trusted to bring life into the world as God intended. I am seeing birth more and more, to be a huge blessing and honor that God has given all of us females. God created us to be strong, powerful, full of love and grace, and then to be the very conduit of the most important person ever to be born.
In the birth stories I have been reading there has been a lot of talk of the anticipation the women feel for their coming delivery of their child. Many of them referred to the time as being holy. I am sure Mary felt the same anticipation. She probably also had a lot of stress occurring in her life around the time of Jesus’ birth (with the whole riding on a donkey for hours while pregnant, having to travel for a dumb census for their dictatorial ruler, and them not being able to find a place to stay), but when her baby came, when Jesus arrived I am sure it was a beautiful, holy time. A time that God gives all of us with each birth that occurs.
Thinking of Mary anticipating Jesus’ birth, along with all the women I read about, has made me anticipate Jesus in a new way this year. It is less mystical and religious…and honestly more primal. It feels more settled. More natural. Like birth itself.
So here’s to a beautiful season of anticipation drawing to a close. I sure am glad we have kick-ass women like Mary to help show us the way…and bring our Savior to us. My prayer is that we can all move from anticipation to participation. That Emmanuel can overwhelm every aspect of our lives. I sure need this. I think the world and church (honestly) quickly makes it clear that we all do.
An awesome Mary thanks to good ol' google images