Sunday, 23 December 2018

Pregnant waiting

The imagery of pregnancy (Micah 5.3; Lk. 1.39-45) is one that is filled with hope for a new beginning and for a future that is filled with life. There is no negativity within the image itself. The pain and struggle of the actual birth process is not part of the image and often that pain is fleeting with the passage of time. Like all pain, that is not constant, there is a memory which may be shaded in any direction. However, the joy that is redolent in the image is infectious and brings sighs, memories and a glowing happiness of both the past and the future. It is also an image that brings comfort perhaps as we hark back to a time when the womb surrounded us and protected us from the harsh realities of the world or to the simple comfort of knowing that something loved is growing quietly away from the cold realities of life.

In some respects, this seems all wrong, as the reality appears to be filled with angst around the time of birth. There is much fear and of course pain during the birthing process. On occasion there are challenges that have to faced perhaps around existing medical conditions or the possibility of premature delivery, perhaps even around the possibilities of unknown conditions that are likely to generate hardship and challenges over and above the normal. No matter the final outcome, it is more often then not, joy, love and happiness, which is what we take away from the whole process at the end of the day. Life in some respects can mirror our expectations and our own experiences both the negative and the positive. In facing the coming of the incarnation it is our role to pick up the positive aspects and to discard the negative. In our services and the lives that we share together should be reflections of that never ending joy.

Faith, Joy, Peace all come together with love as we await the incarnation

Mary spontaneously bursts into praise and song when Elizabeth tells of the kick she received from her son as Mary approached (Lk. 1.46-55). A effervescent, bubbling up of response to God's nearness and presence in each others lives. Achieved through an attitude that is firmly set within the confines of God's presence. The one thing that no one can remove from ourselves and can only be determined by the responsive self to any and all situations. Mary chose to celebrate and praise God, Mary chose to be a vessel of God, Mary chose to be joyful in the face of hatred and ostracization. She probably prepared for her visit to Elizabeth by reading the start of 1 Samuel and so as she is greeted, the praise song of Mary pours forth. In approaching God we come with joy in our hearts and praises on our lips.

Does this speak to our situation today? Naturally. In planning for the future we of necessity listen closely and reflect on God's leading. This is where Martha and the other Mary jostle our lives for prominence. The birthing process is painful and on occasion it wants to rush into being while being called to slow down and not be born prematurely. At others there is a need to push forward and not allow ourselves to be retained and held up, which can also cause severe challenges. Yet the whole process is one of joy for the birth of new life and should be approached not with reflections on what was but on what is to come. In newness of life we find changes to our perspective (every child born changes the life of those tasked with caring for the child) this is what we need to open ourselves to and experience God's presence.

In the same manner we  approach the incarnation of our Lord, not with fear and trepidation but with throats sore from the shouts of praise and worship. To make our own decision as to the attitude that we approach God and not be bullied by our past or our present experiences. Just as Mary accepted without complaint and moved into new life with an attitude of joy. The inability to express our joy at God's presence reflects an inability to see the myriad possibilities that new life brings and to turn away from God's love which is always present and waits in pregnant anticipation for its release into our lives as it becomes incarnate in the world.

No comments: