Sunday. December 24, 2 Samuel 7: 1-11; 16 David was about to run ahead with his plans for God. He was well intentioned but thought he knew the mind of God. Advent waiting is an invitation to slow down, to examine my assumptions in the light of God’s will. To surrender to God’s Sovereignty.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38
What does obedience to God look like? Apparently more than just following rules. Like Jesus, and like Mary, it seems to have a lot to do with simply giving your life, trustingly, to God. Mary’s obedience led to great joy as we hear in her Magnificat. Why was she so blessed? Because she knew that her life was given over to God in faith and trust, and that the Lord had recognized and accepted her offering of trust.
As one who believed without question that God’s will would be fulfilled, Mary becomes a model of faith for us all. She is an example of what the disposition of the Christian and the church could be towards God. The effect of her response shows us something of what God accomplishes in us if we give ourselves to His will as she did. “Let it be unto me, according to Your will”.
Like Jesus, Mary embraced with all her heart whatever God willed for her life. She did not ask to understand, to know God’s reasons, or to see where this would all lead her before she said yes. Mary submitted without reserve to God’s action in her life. This is why Mary is often called the queen of contemplatives. She models for us the disposition of one who is fully given to God. She shows us how to more perfectly co-operate with the divine action in our lives.
What does it mean for you and I to do likewise? It means to simply submit to God’s word that is constantly calling us to conform to God’s will. As brother Roger of Taizé once noted, “The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and whispers constantly to each one of us, ‘Surrender yourself to God’s will, in all simplicity.'”
God’s word is more than speech, more than what’s written in the Bible. It is a living action that creates us in the image of God, our imago dei. The question is, do we receive that word? Are our hearts sufficiently humble to welcome and abide in that Word which would transform us? Jesus once told His disciples, “If you continue in my word you truly are my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). The person who gives their life to God’s will have great freedom. And with great freedom, comes great joy. “Let it be unto me, according to Your will.” The gospel is really as simple as that. To pray this offering and seek each day to participate with its fulfillment will lead anyone to a more perfect obedience and to spiritual joy.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Jn. 15:9
For Group Discussion:
1. How would you describe Mary’s obedience to God?
2. Do you see parallels with Jesus’ relationship to his Father?
3. How do you experience that kind of surrender and freedom?
For Prayer: I offer as much of myself to you as I am able, and ask for the desire to participate with You, God, in the transformation of my will. May You be fulfilled in me.
Sunday, Dec.17 – Isaiah 61: 1-4; 8-11 Someone has given this the title “Good news for the oppressed” and it must have warmed the prophet’s heart to be able to proclaim good news to his people. He tells them that, because they are rightly related to God, they will be strong, upright and fruitful – like mighty oak trees, planted to give honour and glory to God. Today I pray, asking God’s Spirit to show me anything in my life that is disordered and interferes with that right relationship. I ask that I might grow towards the image of that oak tree, in my marriage, my family, my community – but most of all, to bring glory to God.
Monday, Dec.18 – Ephesians 6:10-17 My enemies are generally things unseen. The coming of Christ brings unlimited resources for defeating enemies of fear, envy, anxiety….. so we can dress for success by putting on these pieces. I will pray this today.
Tuesday, Dec.19 – Psalm 125 I notice the corporate language in this Psalm. This is not about an individual, but about the Lord’s people. I see myself as part of something much bigger than me – a community “whose hearts are in tune” with the Lord. Today I am praying for my heart to be in tune in all the events and conversations of the day. I pray for friends, family and faith community to be drawn to the reverberations of that heavenly tuning fork.
Wednesday, Dec.20 – Malachi 3:16-4:6 These words of mercy and judgement are the last words in the Old Testament. They come after an impassioned call to repentance. Then I turn the page and my eyes fall on, “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born.” (V. 18) My prayer is about how this changes everything. I re-read the Malachi passage in light of Matthew.
Thursday, Dec.21 – Hebrews 1: 1-4 Jesus’ birth is a part of the whole work of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Prayerfully ponder the beauty of this Father-Son relationship.
Friday, Dec. 22 – Hebrews 1: 5-14 This is to say that God’s Son is greater than the angels. Not many in my world would argue this. But look at verse 14. What role have angels played in my life? Seen or unseen? Think about the role of angels in the Advent/Christmas narrative. Am I open to the care of angels?
Saturday, Dec. 23 – John 7: 40-52 Oh, I would like to sit with the birth story, to picture the Nativity scene, to stay with the moment. But to ponder this in isolation is to miss the magnitude of Incarnation. I must go to the arguing crowds, the plotting Pharisees, the conflicted followers. In this season of waiting, we know how the story unfolds and that it continues to unfold in our lives, even as we wait for Christ to come again. I will put this into prayer with the Psalmist’s words as refrain. “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Wait patiently.”
Sunday, Dec. 10 – Isaiah 40:1-11 “The glory of the Lord will be revealed”. There is such a contrast between “glory” and “wilderness” – or is there? My prayer will be about finding glory in the midst of a time of dwelling in wilderness.
Monday, Dec. 11 – Psalm 27 I am drawn to verse 5. It feels so safe to be “hidden in his sanctuary.l” From this place of quiet protection, I can learn how to live and my quiet heart can wait and be brave. My prayer is for grace to see that I am invited to begin living in the house of the Lord, now. Think and pray about that!
Tuesday, Dec.12 – Psalm 27 I am returning to this Psalm. There is too much to find here for one day. As I read, I am drawn to a phrase or an image. I stop there and find my prayer for today.
Wednesday, Dec.13 – Luke 1:5-17 Today, I am paying attention to the sounds of the growing crowd outside the temple, the pungent scent of incense, to the elegance of the priestly robes. Into this, an ordinary day of work for this devout priest, bursts the angel of God, bearing news that will change everything – for the priest and his wife – for the world. And so the story begins to unfold, sending feelers out in all directions. I am part of the ripple effect. I pray that my life , now and what remains for me to live here, will cause this ripple to keep moving. May I be part of that on-going invitation.
Thursday, Dec.14 – Habakkuk2:1-5 What in my life seems slow in coming? I will use this refrain: wait patiently, for it will surely take place.
Friday, Dec.15 – Habakkuk 3:2 this is a prayer sung by the prophet. I will pray verse 2 today and I will try singing it. Alone.
Saturday, Dec.16 – Habakkuk 3:17-19 I am listing the challenges in my life as I see the present and the future, I will write after each one “yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” I will end my prayer with verse 19.
Sunday, Dec. 3 – Is. 64:1-9 Is there a place in my life, or in my prayer where I feel that God is being silent? I will describe that place or that longing and offer myself as wood, waiting to burn or water, waiting to boil. (v.2)
Monday, Dec.4 – Micah 4:1-5 Is my life focused on ascending to the house of the Lord? Today I will write my prayer asking that God will teach me his ways and I will walk in his paths.
Tuesday, Dec. 5 – Psalm 79 Sometimes when I look around at the world, at my community, my friends and family and my own life experience and I see things that are just not fair, I want to help God out, to get him moving faster. Today I will express some of these desires. Then I will sit and listen before I conclude.
Wednesday, Dec.6 – Micah 5: 1-5a As a young citizen of Bethlehem, how might these words have landed on my heart? Today I will listen to Micah’s words as a teenager in Bethlehem and I will write words to describe what I feel.
Thursday, Dec.7 – Psalm 85 As I read this Psalm, I search for words to pray as a breath prayer. Breathing in to a count of 4 and out to a count of 4, I will write a breath prayer to keep always with me.
• Show us your unfailing love (breathing in)
• And grant us your salvation. (Breathing out)
Friday, Dec.8 – Jeremiah 1:4-10 Lately, I have felt that I am too old to be doing all that I think the Lord expects of me. Today, I will tell the Lord how I feel and ask for clarity and for wisdom, to know which are mine to do and which I have let my false self talk me into.
Saturday, Dec. 9 – Mark 11: 27-33 When I choose to please people over being attentive to the Holy Spirit, I miss out on what the Spirit may be saying. My prayer today will be to ask for the grace of attentiveness, above all, to the Holy Spirit, present in me.