First Thoughts, Third Week of Advent

photo-13Setting: The Albina Press Coffee House

Coffee: Stumptown Guatemala Finca el Injerto

Sound: Penny and Sparrow’s “Struggle Pretty”

View: This neighborhood mural….

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle”

-St. Francis

Last evening during our Advent ceremony we were discussing the candles. Our candles dance around one another on a simple wooden candelabrum, each branch is tagged with its weekly virtue-theme. This week the theme is Joy.

Unexpectedly, my ten-year-old chimed in. “The candles tell a story don’t they.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the first candle is hope and it is about the waiting for Jesus to come back then and now. Peace is about knowing that Jesus will come and that he will save us. And now we IMG_1232have joy, which is about how we feel when Jesus comes to us.”

Not bad.

This morning, my Ignatian prayer book instructed me to read Luke 1:26-38. The book doesn’t know that it is Advent, but it told me to read the Annunciation all the same. So, this morning I am meditating on Mary… and her ability to say, “Yes.”

First, I am aware within me of my programming to lessen Mary. I do it in a way that I would never muffle John the Baptist, Peter or Paul. My programming is painfully clear, if I pause for even a moment and am attentive to my inner thoughts. I imagine it comes from my 1980s Baptist education. I think I was taught to believe– not directly of course, but in a thousand subtle and insidious ways— I was taught that Mary was a “Catholic thing” and a heretical Catholic thing at that, so she shouldn’t be considered too carefully.

This morning’s meditation was on Mary. “Thank you God for Mary.”

My main question this morning was this: When Gabriel told Mary that she would bear the Messiah did she count the implications of his words? Did she catalogue the unending pains, shames, challenges, inconveniences, mockings and messes that his words would set in motion? Or did she simply say, “Yes.” Did she intuitively know that it was not her responsibility to count the second domino… or the third… or the fourteen thousandth? Did she somehow know that that first domino was more than enough eternity for that day?

And Mary said, “Yes.”

Have a wonderful third week of Advent.

Oh, and one last thing…. “You have found favor with God.”

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