Daily Archives: December 3, 2012

Pondering – Over and Over — December 3

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430.

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is old.  She sits lovingly wrapped in a shawl near a warm fire in John’s house, she is remembering – pondering in her heart…

It was just an ordinary day in Nazareth when I was visited by Gabriel, an angel sent from the very presence of God.  He told me I had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah.  I was troubled, afraid, confused, accepting, blessed.  I have pondered that angelic conversation over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I went to visit Elizabeth in the hill country.  Her child leaped for joy in her womb when I entered the house, and Elizabeth called me “the Mother of my Lord.”  I have pondered that visit over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The angel’s assurance to Joseph, the trip to Bethlehem for Caesar’s census, the birth in the stable, the manger that Joseph filled with fresh hay.  I have pondered those days over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The story told by the shepherds that night…how an angel proclaimed the Savior’s birth and a huge choir of angels sang their beautiful song of glory and peace in their field.  I have pondered the story of the shepherds over and over in my heart a thousand times….

We presented Jesus in the Temple and an old, devout man named Simeon recognized Him as the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike.  He

looked me in the eye and spoke of a sword piercing my soul.  I have pondered those chilling words over and over in my heart a thousand times…

We went to Jerusalem for Passover.  He was twelve, and we realized on our way home that he was not with our group.  After three frantic days, Joseph and I found him in the Temple astonishing the scholars with his knowledge and understanding.  He told us he was about his Father’s business.  I have pondered his words over and over in my heart a thousand times….

When he turned water into wine, when he raised Lazarus from the dead, when he healed the crippled and the blind, when he walked on the sea and calmed the storm.  The parables, the sermons, his teachings.  The emotions on his face that only I could read, the times he wept, the times he challenged the Pharisees.  I have pondered each event over and over in my heart a thousand times….

The arrest in the Garden, the trials, the flogging.  The crucifixion!  Simeon’s prophecy came back to me, and I wondered how I could still be living with that sword of pain piercing my soul.  The tomb, the waiting, the crushing grief.  Then the resurrection!  Joy beyond words healed that wound to my soul!  The ascension, as my Son went back to his Father – my Son who was before me.  All of this I have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

I was chosen to be the God-bearer.  I was called to obedience, to be faithful in mystery, to endure great sorrow, and to know the deepest joy ever experienced by a human being.  All these things I, Mary of Nazareth, have pondered over and over in my heart a thousand times….

Reflection – As you remember these years of journey with Christ, what do you ponder over and over in your heart?

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Meaning of Advent

The Second Coming of Christ window at St. Matt...

The Second Coming of Christ window at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany represented by the studios of George L. Payne of Patterson, New Jersey 1966. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Advent comes from the Latin meaning “a coming” or “arrival”.  The season begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve.  Advent begins our new church year as Christ comes to us again with the peace and joy needed to take us through another year.

During the season of Advent, the church celebrates two comings of Christ.  First, we remember his incarnation, the coming of the Messiah, the world’s Savior.  Second, we look forward to the second and final coming as reigning Lord and Judge.  We thank him for His first Advent, prepare for his Second Advent, and celebrate His Presence through the Holy Spirit.  It is a unique time when the past, the present, and the future realities of God are combined.

Advent gives voice to the joy and hope that the Christ Child brought to the earth and the expectation of the total restoration of God’s Kingdom when He comes again.  The church looks forward to the completion of our salvation and the end of the world’s suffering when Christ comes again.  The season forces spirituality into an increasingly secular Christmas and enriches our relationship to God, to each other, and those who have come before us.

The earliest recorded observances of Advent are from the fourth century.  Monks set aside approximately six weeks before Christ’s Mass as a time of penitence and devotion and fasting.  Advent became a time when new Christians prepared for baptism.  For more than a thousand years, the church has set aside a four week period to recover Christmas as a holy time of expectation and preparation.

Today in the midst of so much despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of the church, the hope of the restoration of creation to completeness upon Christ’s return, the hope of the salvation Christ brings.  In the midst of so much war and death, Advent offers PEACE – the peace beyond our understanding, the peace that is more than the absence of conflict, the peace of Christ.  In the midst of so much prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God, a way to love one another, the yearning to love His church.  In the midst of so much sadness and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of heaven.

 

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