December 22, 2020

ADVENTuring #24

Jesse Tree

Day 22 – December 22


Ornament – Mary or Angel

In a moment, stifling still, Mary stood.  Then came a Presence, moving like a wind, stirring like a breeze.  It may have been a day hung in the balance between the month of Kislev and Tevet.  Maybe she gazed upon Rosh Chodesh, as gusty fingers raked through her hair.  Or possibly she stood, at the point of winter solstice, the darkest night of the year.  Rapt by something she couldn’t quite identify, she awaited light.

The wind twirled and spun until it spilled forth the angel inside.   A voice caressed and shook her at the same time.  Laid before her, an invitation, a seed, a covenant.  In an instant, she became a torch, once barren, that would birth light, carrying it gingerly through a darkened world.  Until.  Until the day it would burst from every pore, every fibre and every cell.  Until the moment her womb erupted, exploding into a world that desperately needed to see.

Her response was amazing:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to done to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:38

No counting the cost or holding hard her plans.  Simply, “Let it be done.”

Let.  What a powerful word.  For it is greater than acceptance or allowance.  Let is a wealthy word, when one is willing to lend themselves to something magnanimous enough to stretch frame and fabric taut enough to tear, and not fear the scar.  One day, there would be no room at the inn.  But the offered space of young girl would be sacred enough to sustain. Her surrender, a living sacrifice, to the Living God.

The Hebrew word for “done” is ‘kalah’ and means “completed, accomplished or fulfilled.”  It also means “spent.”  Translated it means, “Let yourself be spent, so you have no cost.”   What a reckoning response that changed everything.

On days to come, when Mary and Joseph would have little but hold much, they would stand in the line of the poor to proffer what they had.  To them, it would be counted as gain, in realms the world did not yet recognize.

“Let it be done.”  The root of “done” means “enclosed”.  Mary said, “Let me be enclosed in your plan.  There is no escape I seek.  I will be a house for the Dwelling Place to come.”  In that moment she became hemmed into the will of her God, instead of looking for the loopholes of how, why and when.

I wonder, when I reflect upon this story, if Mary’s absence of fear was her fragile and fierce knowing, He who was sown into the flesh and bone of her, was her Savior too.

And my spirit rejoices in my God and Savior.  Luke 1:47

She was saturated in the truth that He came to save, though she knew not how that salvation would seep.

Mary was divinely interrupted, as many before her were.  Yet not one previous pillar of faith beheld the Son of God, the way she would.  To declare “The Word became flesh” is one thing.  To behold the mystery of the Incarnation is another.

To be lent to lulling a tiny God-filled-being with a lullaby, to wiping hot tears from the face of a sweet Savior, to cradling a cooing King that would need to be let go, lent to a world, that would crown Him with thorns, because they didn’t understand they were awaiting joy. The joy of their salvation. In late nights and long days, she would reckon with the reality of this God babe, and the truth that He was on loan.  He was not her own.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19

Quite the treasure trove, Mary stored.  Was storehouse for. From these she could not hide.  There was no withdrawal that could keep her far from being lent and spent.  These things she would need to consistently consider and care for, that they would come to be.  No bystander was she, this woman who would stoop at a manger and surrender beneath a cross.

In those days, women were not formally educated.  At the Temple with the Torah, was not a place Mary could be found.  Yet, God’s words were hidden in her heart.  Her life was Scripture scribed, so when breath came and broke in, every pen stroke upon parchment came alive in her.  She was indeed, a woman of the Word, soil saturated with the ways of God and the mind of Christ.

Mary was also flesh, that could fail.

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.  Luke 2:34-35

In the Temple, when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus, Simeon and Anna greeted them.  They had been waiting for the Messiah and recognized Him.  Simeon took Jesus in His arms and thanked Him for fulfilling His promise, the light.

He then looked deep into Mary and spoke of the piercing of her heart.  For this babe would be her master too.  She would be ever awled to Him.  She would let go, but be bound.  The world’s need of Him would reveal her necessity to let her expectations die excruciating deaths upon the cross of her heart.

She who changed His diapers, would become His disciple.  She who held Him, would bow down before Him.

She must have felt the sword of which Simeon spoke, each time Jesus was accused and avoided.  Those moments must have helped her grasp that His Kingdom was not politically focused, but people postured.  This marveled mother, who had little room, but space enough, was brave enough to let Him grow so there would be a Kingdom for her, for all people, for all time.

She who let Him be woven into her womb, carried Him to the cross.  His crown there was, not that which punctured the head she once held, kissed and caressed.  No, it was one formed and forged in the fire of a mother’s love.  One who let Him be, all He was meant to be.  All He lent Himself to.

His Name

Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of His great mercy he has given us new birth and a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.   1 Peter 1:3

Peter is often called the apostle of hope.  The hope Peter speaks of here is not that found in the trite or trivial.  This is more than hoping it doesn’t rain or we pass a test.

This hope is eager, confident expectation.  It goes beyond living to lively!  This hope engages and energizes.  These are not empty words on a blank page.  A hope that lives on, not coming for us, but active in us.  Such a hope as this comes from the strength of God’s faithfulness.

Living hope is anchored in the past and continues into the present.  Jesus IS alive!! No matter what we encounter, this truth we are tethered to.  This hope points us to the unseen, the undiscovered.  It is an inheritance that is  imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven. (1 Peter 1:4)

Nothing can undermine what we have been given undeserved.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.  Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizadek.  Hebrew 6:19-20

Jesus is our hope!  If not, if our source is in external options, any situation and circumstance will cause us to lose hope. Our hope isn’t based solely on Christ’s past work.  It is enlivened by our strong and confident expectancy for what is yet to come!