Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent Begins and It is All About Miracles

I love Thanksgiving.  I'm not always thankful for how I feel on Black Friday, but I love Thanksgiving Day.  It is a celebration of all the good things of the flesh, my favorite being the abundance of food to overfill my stomach.  Acceptable gluttony - nothing wrong with celebrating and being grateful for all the good gifts God gives - like turkey, sweet potatoes, homemade noodles, dressing and broccoli salad, with a little wine to wash it all down. 

It's the day-after, the kitchen is clean and I'm back to eating Greek yogurt & berries with my coffee (a paltry meal, so Leftover Lunch 2013 happened before 11.)  So, I turn my eyes back to more important things then food, namely the ways of God.

Just in time too because Sunday begins the Season of Advent.  It's my second favorite season, behind Easter.  Tuesday night, I introduced my girls to two of my favorite Christmas songs.  That might be a first because I usually just show up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, always surprised to find purple everywhere in the sanctuary, then I begin to Christmas - like thoughts.  (The purple is the color of Advent, symbol of the coming King.  Read about it here.)

Now, my heart is moved early to start again on a work 5 years old, writing about the significant players in the story of Jesus' birth.  I figure I might never finish this side of glory because each year new feelings, experiences and revelations of Who God is and what He has done for me continue to shape how I feel about Advent.

Thinking about what the people involved were like, what they thought or felt is an interesting study of faith.  I think most about two of them, Mary and Jesus.  I dabble with others but Mary for the obvious reason: I'm a mother.  I think about Jesus for a related reason, I love babies.  Two things moved me the other night as I was listening to the music of the season with my girls.

In her song, Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - Amy Grant helps me emote with the Mother of God.  Grant's voice is chocked full of emotion, articulating what could have been in Mary's meditative heart, as she rocked on the donkey behind Joseph, on the way to Bethlehem.  These last lines of the song get me every time.  They echo my plea to the Father during so many challenges during my own life,

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be

Help me

Like I said, I get Mary.  Or at least I'd like to think I do.

The other thought that swirls around in my head is what Jesus left to put on our meat suit.  The brilliance of Heaven behind turning into a pinprick of the harsh light of Earth.  He was as helpless as any other shivering baby.  He left the warmth and comfort of the Father's side to be born, then to die like the rest of us.  As Bebo Norman documents in his song Born to Die, more than a few angels had to be scratching their heads at this part of the plan.  This line, in light of Psalm 139, makes me think of my own children in the womb.  They were no strangers to The Father, just Jesus was fully known even in His amniotic state.  It's been up to us, as mortal parents to get to know who God already does.

Majesty had come down, Glory had succumbed now
To flesh and bone
In the arms of a manger, In the hands of strangers that could not know

Just who they hold.

It's a miracle - the whole thing.  Whenever a baby is conceived, grows and is born, it is a miracle.  The baby is proof, we just watch, with really minimal participation.  Three times I've experienced it and once the baby is in there, I can do very little about it till they come out.  Like Mary, like Jesus, God moves us forward to our destinies, to play our parts in His plan.

Advent is certainly about a baby, but the most precious baby.  His mother watched God do what only God could do: bring their Son into this world to live as we do; to experience our lives and teach us what it was supposed to be; and to die for us so we could know Him for real.

Advent is about miracles.  It is the season where anything is possible; and anything can begin right here and now.  Faith in God is renewed in the manger, the glorious first step towards Calvary and Eternity.  I've written about expecting big things from God (the most recent here).  

This is the season to expect God to do the impossible, to grab onto Him with both hands.

This is the season to believe.  Do you?

If you'd like to listen to those songs I mentioned, here they are in video versions:

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