The person of Mary in the sacred story of the Gospels is significant in the historical catholic faith. Though her role is diminished in the more protestant traditions, she remains for our contemplation and inspiration. She is the story of being caught up in the unseen forces and divine interventions of her day.
She is that life that is drawn in to the conversations of angels, the plans of gods, the intermingling of heaven and earth. Mary was born with a story to live out. To be a woman of her time and culture. To be an honorable daughter, a devoted wife and mother, to grow old in the company of her clan and to be laid to rest with her ancestors.
But something happened, Mary’s story became God’s story. Mary is to be a mother, but not any mother. She is betrothed and to be married, but not to any man, she is to have a son, but not just any son. Her life becomes an integral part of God’s life in the world.
This sort of thing happens to those who like Mary will say, “be it done according to thy will” when the angels of God show up in a life. I think each of us have those divine whispers calling us to allow our scripted story, to become the unscripted story of faith, of hope, and of love. I believe the Holy Spirit comes to any of us to plant the seeds of goodness, kindness, service, love, beauty, and justice…and too many of us simply dismiss it as meaningless imagination. But I have witnessed many who have said yes to the divine leadings in their life.
Take this christmas choir for instance. It was just an imagined idea seven months ago. Rick was captured by this idea of bringing together people he knew and loved to sing together at Christmas.. He has done this for years, but something was different. This year there was a divine intervention and partnership to which he said “yes.” It was his willingness to let his story become God’s story this year at Christmas
I remember annie coming home from work one day on a cold December night eight years ago. Her whole being was filled with a thought she could not contain. A little three year old girl needs a home, and I think it is ours. We had a story, it was scripted and well on its way… but we said yes to God’s idea of love and family. Our story without Harley, became God’s story with Harley.
I have seen this happen to annie many times over. It’s a challenge for households to believe in these God dreams when they come to family members. But that is the Gospel story isn’t it. I mean God planted the seed in Mary but Joseph was brought into the story too. I have seen annie’s life of painting and art grow from just one day going out and buying a canvas. I have seen her women’s circle grow and take life for hundreds of women from an imagined use for the neglected building across our parking lot some six years ago.
I have seen liz Karavitis be moved by a sermon, to bring forth the incredible community experienced at st. annes, I listened to Gary Rhum share his dream for a music academy in Kokomo when he just started the rhum academy in the middle of the recession, I have watched Mindy Hancock’s journey from the time she entered our doors as a nazarene pastor, filled with the idea of presiding at the altar as an episcopal priest.
One night, about three years ago I was at a Christmas gathering at the Hancocks and a mutual friend was at the gathering. In a conversation he shared how he was looking for interested persons to mentor how to write code for computers. I immediately thought of my son, sawyer, and I suggested it to him. I have watched as an idea, a simple conversation give birth to a disciplined pursuit, mentorship, and new vocation for my son.
I could go on and on. This sort of thing happens when people are open, and the environment is filled with faith and expectation. Lives, living their stories, and suddenly, angels, shepherds, code writers, legal proceedings, other stories, pinterest pinnings, they suddenly appear inviting our story to become God’s story in our world. We all are potential instruments for the incarnation of God in our generation to our world.
It has been five or so years since the use of Holy women and Holy men book has been utilized in our mid-week prayer offices in the chapel. The pages are filled with people like Mary who allowed the spirit of God to impregnate them with divine compassion, love, zeal, determination in their day for their day. People who became instruments of compassion, justice, creativity, liberation, bold obstacles to the waves of injustice, discrimination, inequality, hatred, and violence that were dominant in their day. Page after page is filled with people who allowed their story to become God’s story with the same humble acceptance as Mary did in the sacred story, ‘Be it done according to thy will.”
We light the final candle of advent. Our anticipation and waiting is almost over. We move from the call of prophets and the pregnancy of Mary to the birth of the Christ child. But for a final moment let us contemplate upon the meaning of Mary’s response in our own life. Let us be ready for the time of our own visitations from the divine world and may we allow our story to become God’s story of faith, justice, compassion, healing, reconciliation, beauty, creativity, suffering, and love. Amen.