Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent IV

Readings are here.

Mary is the focus of today's readings. We said together the Magnificat - her song about this event that turns the world upside down. A baby's birth that changes the whole world forever.

The reading from 2 Samuel is set up as a conversation between David and God. David has accomplished many things. He has set up a might kingdom. He wants to build a house for God. God seems to laugh at the idea that a human can build a house to contain the presence of God. God says: "Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"

God is the God of the tents - God who moves in the midst of the people - God cannot be contained is a building made by people. The whole universe is not big enough to contain the presence of God. "No," God says. "I am the one who does the building of holy places."

God creates the universe and yet builds a home in our hearts. And in the story of Mary makes a home in the womb of a young woman - a teenage girl. It is all so mysterious and wild - the revelation - just like God to surprise us in this way.

Saly Boyd - a priest in Wright, Wyoming, send me this poem that reflects some of this mystery:

Mary’s Song (A Poem by Luci Shaw)
Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Each of us is called to be open to the birth of God within us. To be open to the Holy Spirit making a home in our hearts. Really when each of was born we made this world a place it never was before. Jesus' birth brought changes that echo through the centuries and continues to change hearts and transform lives. But each of us too changed the world just be being here.

Trevor Huddleston, a priest in South Africa who inspired Bishop Tutu, says: “God himself has entered this world, has been ‘enfleshed’ in our common humanity and has therefore given to every person an infinite and changeless dignity.”

Anthony de Mello writes:
The events of history were controlled
for my coming to this world
no less than for the coming of the Savior.
The time had to be ripe ...
the place just right...
the circumstances ready ...
before I could be born
God chose the parents of his Son
and endowed them with the personality they needed
for the Child that would be born,
1 speak to God about the man and woman that he chose
to be my parents...
until 1 see that they had to be
the kind of human beings they were
if I was to become
what God meant me to be.
The Christ child comes, like every other child,
to give the world a message.
What message have I come to give? ...
I seek guidance from the Lord to express it
in award...
or image...
Christ comes into this world
to walk a certain path,
fulfill a certain destiny.
He consciously fulfilled what had been "written "for him.
As 1 look back I see in wonder what was "written "
and has thus far been fulfilled in my own life...
and for each part ofthat script,
however small
I say, "Thanks"...
to make it holy with my gratitude.
I look with expectation and surrender
at all that is to come...
and, like the Christ,
I say, "Yes, Let it be done"...
Finally I recall the song the angels sang
when Christ was born.
They sang of the peace and joy
that give God glory.
Have I ever heard the song the angels sang when I was born ? ...
I see with joy what has been done through me
to make the world a better place...
and I join those angels
in the song they sang
to celebrate my birth.

What is that song that is your life? How are you singing it? Who else is humming along with you? Listen.

Icon by Laurie Gudim at Everyday Mysteries.