Say Yes this Advent

Say Yes this Advent

Dear Siblings in Christ,

I am one of those people who is never thrilled with the end of daylight savings time. I am not a fan of shortened days. This year it feels particularly rough; literally as the night encroaches on the day, and figuratively as our nation feels more divided than ever, as the powerful seem to relish trampling on the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable. And it often feels like we are sitting in the darkness, just waiting for the light to return. Waiting for the distorted way we have ordered the world to be turned on its head. Waiting for God’s justice. And as we sit in this prolonged darkness we hear the beginnings of a song, sung by a young, vulnerable woman. A fiercely gentle song we find in Luke’s telling of the Jesus story and that we call Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in you, O God my Savior, for you have looked with favor on your lowly servant.” I have spent an awful lot of time with Mary in the last year, listening to her song, reading her story, contemplating her situation.

She was a true nobody. A poor young Jewish woman in a land occupied by a foreign power.  And yet it was to her, to this most unlikely choice of partner, that God’s messenger came. Gabriel looked her in the eye and asked her the most critical question in history. And Mary said yes. Despite knowing this would lead to being humiliated, ostracized, possibly stoned to death, Mary said yes. Yes to bearing God in and for the world. Literally making room in her body for God’s life to grow within her. Despite most certainly having an inkling of the pain she would bear, not just in giving birth, but in watching her son challenge power, be tortured and executed, she said yes. And not just a quiet whisper of a yes but a fierce cry and a song. A song that turns the world’s understanding of power and might on its head. A song of a world put back into right relationship with God—in which the hungry are fed, the meek raised up, and the proud are “scattered in the imagination of their hearts”. In these ever lengthening nights, in this time of darkness, the world needs us to keep our hearts tuned to this song, and we need to know that Mary’s song is still ours, her hope is still ours.

We need to know that this Advent, every Advent, always, God still seeks to be born wherever and whenever someone says yes. God seeks to enter into this world again and again through the most unlikely of partners, through you and me. Our job is to watch with the eyes of our heart for signs of the holy, to listen with the ears of our heart for God’s messenger. Our job is to stand with Mary, singing, becoming, and being, a song of hope to the world—a song of the world’s power turned on its head, a song of victory and joy for the poor, the hungry, and the vulnerable. Our job is to say yes to nothing less than joining Mary in becoming God-bearers for the world.

This Advent I invite you to join us as we sing Mary’s Magnificat in church on Sunday mornings—as we practice and encourage each other in saying yes to God, as we draw strength and inspiration to bear God in and for the world. And on Christmas Eve and Day I invite you to join us as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child—the One who is God’s eternal love song to the world.

In the fierce gentleness of Mary, and in Christ,
Claire+

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The Rev. Claire Nevin-Field is the rector of St. Peter's Church.

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