I love advent. Everything that’s beautiful comes out this time of year– Candles. Fresh greens. Snow. Gold and silver. Ribbons and bows. Homemade cookies and hot chocolate and mulled wine. Organs and brass bands and all kinds of live music. Every year I feel excited as the first signs of the season come out.
I savor all the festive things that happen during the month of December. And I love being deeply moved as we reflect on the different characters and themes of the Christmas story- which, strangely, seem fresh and new year after year. Each time we travel the journey to Bethlehem again the story has new meaning, striking relevance to something going on around me.
This Sunday we focused on Mary. As I listened to the story I rediscovered, as I somehow always do, what a simply inspiring character she is. I’m sure we’ve all heard many sermons about how difficult it must have been for her to receive her angelic news. Teenage, engaged, ostracized, almost jilted, almost made destitute… it can’t have been easy. She must have had some moments of frustration. How else would she have been human?
But what blows me away every single time I hear the story read, is her clarity of response. Any fear, frustration, or resentment she probably felt isn’t recorded (maybe because it wasn’t the important part.) It’s more like, to paraphrase, ‘Ok, then. Awesome.’ And on she goes.
As I mulled over this during the service, a word came to me: re-astonished. I am re-astonished by Mary every year. She inspires me to trust- to be in the middle of the journey, on a donkey to an unknown destination and far from home, without needing to know how it’s going to end. She reminds me to just stop and be astonished. And worship. And remember that our God is one who ‘lifts up the humble’ and ‘fills the hungry with good things.’ Awesome.
May you rediscover and be re-astonished, wherever you are this week.