Daily Reflection
December 22nd, 2004
Cathy Weiss Pedersen
Campus Ministry
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“My soul proclaims the greatness of God and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

As Christmas approaches, I am busy about many things…happily preparing for my adult children’s arrival, frantically rechecking my gift list, burning the midnight oil to finish all the ‘to do’s on my never ending list.  In fact, at this time of year, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I am missing the ‘reason for the season’ in the midst of my frenetic pace that often leaves me too exhausted to make time for prayer and a few minutes of reflective peace about the true meaning of our celebrations.

In today’s first reading, Hannah brings her son, Samuel to the temple to present him to God as fulfillment of her promise that if she could bear a son, she would dedicate him to God.   When I first read the passage I was aghast that anyone would leave her small child in the temple after waiting so long for him.  It is inconceivable to me for a mother to let go of someone so precious…so longed for…  What was she thinking?  

Then, I read the psalm response, which is a continuation of 1 Samuel, where Hannah prays in gratitude to her God for the gift of her son…recognizing the familiar words echoing a favorite prayer of mine, the Magnificat.

And of course, today’s Gospel is Mary’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving…her magnificent song to God as she greets her cousin, Elizabeth who is pregnant with John.  What joy and gratitude is caught in the worlds of these two women as they marvel in God’s blessings on them and their people!

Ah…then I wonder what kind of gratitude do I offer God in the midst of this happy time?  Oh yes, I am excited and thankful that I can have most of my family together to celebrate the holidays…and treasure these gatherings more every year.  I enjoy all the preparations in anticipation of the time we will have together…and I do acknowledge this in my prayer time with God.  However, it is often with an exhausted body and drained soul as I scurry to finish all the tasks that I ‘must’ do in preparations for the holiday.

Perhaps, if I could enter more into the spirit of the celebration in my anticipation… rejoicing in God’s presence in the everyday moments with the people and events of the now, I might be even more grateful in a more centered, God-spirited way so that the people around me would witness God’s presence rather than a whirling dervish that needs to be avoided.

Remembering Hannah’s presentation of Samuel to God and her prayer of praise, I still am amazed at her actions…something that I could/would not be able to do…at least in her way of doing it.  But perhaps it could help me to realize that what I have been blessed with is pure gift…not mine to hoard and keep, but rather to nurture and ‘let go’ to allow God’s spirit to move in my life with others.   

So, it isn’t up to me to be sure that Christmas time is perfect?  …probably not.  Perhaps if I can invite God into the moments of these days, I will recognize the Spirit within the persons and events around me…become a little more patient, and less caught up in my ‘have to do’ ways that may obscure rather than enhance others’ celebrations of ‘God among us.’

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