Scripture: Luke 1:26-56
Focus Passage: You have shown strength with your arm; you have scattered the proud in their conceit; you have deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. You have filled the hungry with good things, while you have sent the rich away empty. (Luke 1:51-53, The Inclusive Bible)
Expectations play a big role in our lives; they can help us have the confidence to grow, to try new things, to realize our potential, or they can stifle us, making us afraid to try. Psychologists say that it is a healthy skill to learn to manage our expectations both of others and of ourselves.
Take a moment…What role have expectations played in your life? Have you ever had an experience that turned out to be better than you expected? Worse than you expected? Have you ever been anxious because you didn’t know what to expect? Has anyone ever had unrealistic expectations of you that put unfair pressure on you? Have you ever had unrealistic expectations of yourself? Others? What kinds of expectations do you have as we approach Christmas?
Advent is a season of expectancy. We wait, we hope, we long, we anticipate. For what? What does Mary’s story tell us about this hope, this season of expectancy? How is she doing at managing her expectations?
Take a moment…Read through Mary’s Magnificat, noticing her expectations of what it means when the Holy One comes. Try reading it out loud several times. Try reading it quietly, prayerfully. Try reading it forcefully, even defiantly. Read it exuberantly and full of praise and joy. How does it strike you? Peace-filled? Daring? Risky?
Mary’s Magnificat, in one hand, holds the reality of a troubled, death-filled world. In the other hand, it holds the claim, the expectation, that given all of that, in the middle of all of that, God’s presence means life. We operate with a lot of expectations, of ourselves, of others, and even of God, but they aren’t all Advent kinds of expectations. The hungry fed. The oppressed freed. Those are some big expectations, but they are Advent expectations. That God is with us, coming to us in the middle of our ordinary, messy, everyday lives is an Advent expectation. That God’s love is and will be continually poured out is an Advent expectation. That God invites us, those made full of grace, to dream, envision, be courageous, and partner with God in bringing God’s kin-dom about, is an Advent expectation.
Ever-Expected One, give me the courage to envision your dream of justice and peace.
- Create your own visual Magnificat. Gather some paper and colored pencils. Put on some lively music. In the center of a sheet of paper write, “When the Holy Comes.” All around those words, write words, draw, or doodle a collage that represents what the world would look like to you when Love is fully realized.
- Let go of an unhelpful expectation that you have of yourself, others, or God. Take up an Advent-kind of expectation. Pray that expectation regularly. Let the signs of God’s presence all around you, encourage you.
2017, Rebecca Bosarge