Psalms 71:3-6, 16-17
These readings, as most of the Advent readings, are full of seemingly contradictory messages. They speak of fear and joy, of seclusion and community, and of sterility and fruitfulness. They caution against "strong drink" while urging celebration.
In the readings, we read of two "barren" women. Both are older women and both are unexpectedly blessed by the Lord with a child. The blessing of the anticipated child is laced with very normal fears, expectations, and joys. The mothers-to-be are cautioned against "strong drink" and are called to stay alert.
What better image for Advent, the liturgical season of joyful waiting, than pregnant women! Any woman who has ever been pregnant knows what it means to wait. She knows of the joys and the fears and the frustrations intimately connected with pregnancy and waiting. She knows the profoundly overwhelming joy at being told that she is going to be a mother. She is alert to the first fluttering of life. She is vulnerable to the strong jabs of feet, hands and elbows. She recalls the fears, the what ifs. She participates in the joyful preparations. Ever present are the frustrations; one of my biggest was not being able to see, much less touch my toes! Uncomfortable is putting it mildly. All the while, loyal, loving husbands and fathers often rejoice, suffer, and pray in silence, as did Zechariah.
But what does this have to do with Advent and me and you today? Just what is "it" we are waiting for? And who is the "we" who are waiting? Am I waiting? If so, what for?
Advent reminds me that Christ, the Son of God, the Word has come and has been made flesh. We are not waiting for baby Jesus to come. However, I think we are still waiting in joyful, and fearful anticipation for the Word to dwell amongst us in every way, every day. The joy is that God comes to each one of us in very unexpected and personal ways, as the Spirit came to Elizabeth and to Mary and to Zechariah. The challenge and the preparation is to take time in silence and solitude to recognize just where the Spirit has come into my life - where is the pregnancy in my life today - what are the signs of Godís loving life - and what are my fears and frustrations that accompany the gift of the Spirit in me. Joyfully, I thank the Lord for His presence and await the birth of His gifts in me.
Today is our 30th wedding anniversary. I thank God for the joys, gifts, and blessings of our marriage. May our marriage continue to grow in the spirit of Advent - full of blessings, Spirit nudging, and loving, joyful anticipation for the years to come.
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