Saturday, December 13, 2008

Part of Her.

In these moments of losing myself in the Mary's joy at the hope of becoming a mother, I've sort of lost myself. I've contemplated over and over what it must feel like to know the pure joy of that time, when you're anticipating the possibilities of what THIS child will bring to your family. I knew that f feeling or a very short period, many years ago. During those weeks of pregnancy, though too few, Hubby and I did alot of dreaming. We had waited for this child, and prayed and hoped and we knew that our prayers were answered. And since it was early on in our journey, and we had followed the doctor-guided steps, endured it all, to get us to this miracle, we basked in it. We weren't worried about what might happen. We trusted, although it might seem without ultimate naivete, that this child would be in our arms, and we waited joyously, secretly and dreamed of what life would be like. We dreamed that if he were a boy, he would have my deep brown eyes and Hubby's curly hair, and we'd let his hair grow to see if it was true. If she were a girl, we dreamed of my bubbly grin and blonde hair, his gentle smile and hazel eyes. We dreamed, about the possibilities of what our child might be like, the intermingling of us together, of our love, of our joy, of His promise.

And as I thought about our Jamie-Noel this week (all the while parenting the two miracles that have joined our family through amazing miracles as well, in the last five years) it's been intertwined with thoughts of Mary and how she might feel anticipating the birth of her son, of God's Son. How would that feel to know you were chosen by God for this special purpose? Would it leave you breathless, or would you just know that God is Good and knew what was best, and well this is life. I can't imagine the just knowing, but maybe she did. I mean, she was visited by an angel and all. Maybe in that revelation came assurance. I've never felt God's assurance of my role as a mother until all was said and done, until the child was born, and papers were signed and we knew for certain our children would never leave. Did she know certainty? Maybe she did.

But then, maybe she didn't. I don't know if she fully realized what was ahead of her, or took things at face value, or even whether or not she was able to enjoy her pregnancy and the fact, that God's child was in her, that she was the caregiver for His Magnificent Gift to the world. I'm trying to understand from my human perspective ~ afterall, Mary is only human too ~ as someone who has longed most of her life to know the joy of pregnancy and all that comes with it. I can imagine that she embraced it, loved her child like any other mother would.

Did she say her words of praise with the joy of knowing of the life within, or did she, like the rest of us who long for His Birth, who anticipate the celebration of This Child, God With Us, born, di she wait and not fully realize until she saw His gentle baby face and heard his coos and cries that blessed night in a cave outside Bethlehem. Did she know before, or like the rest of us, wait and see and then believe?

When did she come to realize fully ~ as in more than from the words of the angel but in the seeping into her soul ~ that not only was Her Child hers to hold and love and care for, but He was God's Child. He was hers and her soon-to-be husband's child here on earth, but He was also a God's as well.

Bed of Hay, Earthen floor
Strangers walk through the door
I wanted much more for You
Look at Him, can't you tell
All is fine, All is well
And the Word of the Angel is true

He's part of you and He's part of me
He's part of heaven
He's part of you and He's part of me
He's part of heaven

By my side every day
Underfoot and in my way
Give me wisdom, I pray, O Lord
He is ours for awhile
Every tear and every smile
Till He's everyone's Child to adore

He's part of you and He's part of me
He's part of heaven
He's part of you and He's part of me
He's part of Heaven

~ from the CD This Gift by Gary Chapman
(c) 1992, lyrics by Thom Schuyler/Music by Craig Bickhardt

I heard this song this morning while baking a cake and it hit me in an eerily roundabout way. Jamie-Noel, my precious baby lost, the one I've spent so much time dreaming of, was not only mine, but God's child. And she is where He wants her to be right now. And there's peace in knowing that.

And these two precious loves that I hold and love and care for each day are also His. And He chose me, in a very roundabout way, to be their Momma here on earth. He chose me to be their Momma through all sorts of hard circumstances both in my life and the life of others we love. No, God did not intent them to be my children to raise, but another mothers in the beginning. But then, in the end, God having to send His Only Son to the world, into a manger no less, to live and then to endure the cross, well, I believe that was not God's first plan, but one by His Grace put into place when we fell so hard in our Eden, away from what He really wanted for us.

And just like Mary, I am mother as God's second, albeit equally important, plan. These children are a part of me, and their Daddy, and their other parents, and... God.

And just like Mary, we have been chosen to raise these children to carry out God's plan for the world, in a different way of course, but each one of them, still the hands and feet of Jesus to a world dying in their own Eden. Don't get me wrong... I'm no Mary. And my children are not God made human. But as believers, we have to start seeing ourselves as the extension of God's work made perfect through Christ's life and death and resurrection, or the power of the Gospel will be lost to the world.

Just like me, I can imagine it took Mary to physically see and touch her baby to really know Who He was. And my children, just like Jesus was to Mary, are here for only a little while, and are given into my care to prepare them for their purpose in the world. I pray I'm upto the task.

Heavenly Father ~ I am overwhelmed by the gift of Your Son to our world. And I am overwhelmed by how you chose to save me from all my lostness. Overwhelmed at the thought that your Son died for me. And overwhelmed by the task of all that you've called me to. May I know YOUR joy, the joy you intended for me, each and every day. I want to live always longing for more of you, and I pray for wisdom to know when You speak, I must act, both as I raise my family and as I share Christ through my own life. You have created us a part of you, and that overwhelms me too. Please God, let me know your Joy. Amen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

O Come.

This week is traditionally the time of Advent when we consider Joy.

I've practically been lost in The Magnificat, the song of praise Mary, the expecting mother of Jesus. This passage of Scripture found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke moves me every time I read it (which frankly is not often enough).

Luke 1:45 are the words of her older cousing Elizabeth who is also, hope against hope, for she was barren, and miracle of miracles, for she was getting up there in years, was finally pregnant. Mary came to visit her and Elizabeth, upon Mary's arrival, felt her own child leap in her womb. She longed for a child and her prayers were answered.

And Elizabeth knew. She knew about Mary because the Holy Spirit live in her. Elizabeth, who is described as a woman who lived blameless, knew. And she said, "Mary, you are blessed ~ or maybe, will be blessed ~ because you believed that the words of the LORD would be fulfilled".

And in response, Mary's words, a beautiful hymn of praise to God found in Luke 1...

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed
for the Mighty One has done great things for me.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham
and to his descendants forever.

There are so many reasons why Mary's words mean so much to me, reasons that have formed over the years. First, Mary praises so innocently and simply, basking in the promises of her Lord. I don't know if she's endured any hard thing before this major turn of events ~ getting pregnant out of wedlock a big deal here. She is very young by our standards.

Her words are innocent and simple but are fully loaded with understanding. She's not blind to what is happening to her, although I can't imagine that she understands it all. She longs for things to be made right in the world, just like everyone else does, and sees herself, finally, as a possible conduit for bringing justice to the world. That is something to rejoice! To know you lived blessed because God has asked for your help to bring about his plan of deliverance... that blessing is not something we all covet, as I imagine it for her, and I know it for me, to be not entirely free of struggle. But she is living in hope, and joyful that this day is come. I don't believe that she could know all that would happen to her, to her Son, but she was trusting here, that God would do His thing, that God would keep His promises. So she praised!

Not only are her words simple and innocent, the are prophetic. A woman prophet... gasp! For all those who think that God does not and will not use women in speaking His Words to His people, they better consider how Mary's praise is prophecy. She is telling all of us what Jesus, even as he is still a tiny babe nesting in her womb, was about to do. Again, did she completely understand it all? Probably not. I'm not sure any prophet understands every word he or she is asked to bring, but she spoke them with boldness and joy. She is a prophet, and she speaks about justice more than anything. And I firmly believe that only through justice, and knowing we are working to bring God's Kingdom to this world, and therefore, a more just world to this earth, only through justice can we truly find JOY.

And Mary's audience is not lost on me either. She is singing to her barren cousin and confidant. Yeah, Elizabeth may be "with child" but she is barren. Elizabeth I am certain knows longing and it is this exact longing, that of a child to hold and to love, to nurture and to cherish, that makes me feel this all so very much. There is nothing just about barrenness, about who gets to be a parent and who doesn't, but GOD IS JUST. And that has taught me, even though I rarely am able to express this yet, that joy comes in the realizing that God's justice does and will bring what we need in our lives, but more importantly, through us He will bring what the world ~ the bigger picture, the stuff bigger than my own barrenness ~ needs. He has chosen us, just like He chose Mary, to bring His love and life to the world. Therein lies the joy.

There is joy even in the longing. Mary says it in her words. She's not saying "this has happened" but "look at what God has put into motion! The possibilities are His and endless because He keeps His Promises and He promised to deliver us from the injustice in the world."

And that makes me cry even louder as I long for His birth to happen in my life yet again... O COME! And Let Us Rejoice!

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel...Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyrannyF
rom depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel... Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel...Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel...Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel...Shall come to thee, O Israel.
~ Latin hymn, 12th century

O Come!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

For to Us a Child is Born.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named...
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it with justice
and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

~ Isaiah 9: 2-7 (NRSV)

The Advent Season mark a time of hope and longing. As much as the lights shine bright on our Christmas Tree, which is up for the sake of our kids, my heart lives in the dark longing of wanting the Peace promised by the coming of our Savior.

As much as I live in hope, it is always a longing, alongside the knowing, that Our Hope has come and IS coming, not by any other means EXCEPT the child in a manger.

Sometimes God seems far away, like now, as our family lives under a cloud of sickness. We long for God's protection akin to a bubble to be able to fully feel the possibilities of the Season to come. But this sickness, I guess, is here, for whatever reason... maybe it's to increase the longing, as I know that with health comes a more full experience of the hope that comes from Him. When the pall of feeling sick leaves, life seems brighter, so even in this time of longing, I am working to embrace the sick and trust God's light to shine regardless.

That is hope... and in that HOPE, and only THAT hope, the Hope that only Christ can bring, is where I can and will find my PEACE, now and always. God may seem far away right now, but this hope bring the anticipation of a King who will bring peace and justice and righteousness, finally and wholly, into the world.

Let there be PEACE on earth... that is my hope.