Scripture: Luke 1:26-56
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. (Luke 1:29)
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:39-42)
Mary is often commended, and rightly so, for her exemplary discipleship, her willingness to say yes to God’s invitation. She is often depicted as serene, meek, and mild. But, Mary’s story tells us that we can expect that our encounters with the Holy might include feeling perplexed, taking time to ponder, and that real engagement with God can include asking some questions! However, some questions are more fruitful than others. We sometimes ask “why” questions of God; why me, why this situation. But, those questions, as natural as they are to ask, often bring us to a dead end. Other questions though, open possibilities and new avenues for understanding, exploration, or action. Notice that Mary does not ask “why me?” She asks, “How can this be?”
Take a moment…Think about the questions you most often have for God. Do you have any questions you are asking right now? If you have any “why” questions, could you change them to a “where,” “what,” or “how,” question? What are some good, fruitful, open questions you could ask the Holy One?
Mary’s story tells us that our lives with God may mean a journey toward clarification. After all the pondering and questioning, Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Mary shared their experiences, listened to each other, and they helped each other toward greater awareness, courage, and joy. When the Holy comes to us in the small and the ordinary, we might need help to see it and to have faith in it. Mary and Elizabeth were spiritual community for each other.
Take a moment…How is spiritual community different from other types of community? What kinds of conversation create spiritual community? Do you have a place or people with whom you can share your sacred moments and have them affirmed and even clarified, as Mary and Elizabeth did with each other?
Ever-Coming One, guide me into fruitful, life-giving questions.
We experience all kinds of community; for example, supportive community, therapeutic community, learning community, sharing community. Where do you find spiritual community? How might you make spiritual community an Advent practice? Can you gather with a spiritual friend or friends and ponder together the presence of God being born in your lives, and ask good, open-ended questions together?
2017, Rebecca Bosarge