Monday, December 16

No Wind at the Window [John L. Bell 1992]

No payment was promised, no promises made
No wedding was dated, no blue print displayed
Yet Mary, consenting to what none could guess
Replied with conviction, "tell God I say yes."

It is truly inspirational that Mary found within herself enough trust and courage to say yes to the news Gabriel was bringing.  I think about how careful and calculating I am about many aspects of my life and I wonder if I would have responded as she did.  At the heart of her yes is her ability to imagine that God knew (perhaps even better than she new herself) what would be good for her, and that God would be trustworthy in bringing it to pass.

In my experience, much of our growth in faith is similar to Mary's predicament.  Perhaps not as dramatic as a visit from Gabriel and the news he brought to her, but similar in that we often have to submit to some new discipline, or new direction for our life long before we can be sure that it is the right one.  In 1987 I found myself deeply conflicted about two seemingly incompatible paths.  I was happily involved in a business that I shared with a close friend.  We were making money and having fun.  Seemingly out of the blue I began to think that I was being invited by God to attend seminary.  It made no sense.  I was not a particularly devout Christian and I had not studied religion much as an undergraduate.  I think I am safe is saying that most of my friends thought about my leaving for seminary with a wry bemusement.  No doubt they, like me, fully expected that I would be gone for a few months, discover that it was not for me and I'd be back home soon enough.

In those weeks when I was really in the crucible about whether to abandon one dream (that of being a successful entrepreneur) in order to pursue a new sense of calling (to ministry) I recall thinking that the numbers didn't add up.  It made no sense to abandon a thriving business to go to seminary.  In John Bell's poetic lyrics above he says of Mary's predicament:

No payment was promised, no promises made
No wedding was dated, no blue print displayed

She, too, had to make a choice without a clear picture of how things were going to work out.  It is that way in our relationship with God.  Most of us disciples will be invited to leave what is known behind and strike out into the uncertain with little more than God's promise to go with us.

As we continue to make our way through Advent to the birth of Christ, we can begin to see all of the people in the story of Christ's birth who find it within themselves to say "yes" to some surprising new possibility:  Elizabeth and Zechariah; Anna & Simeon; Mary & Joseph; the three Magi who leave home to follow a star.  Let us be open to the possibility that we too are being invited into a new adventure with God.  We cannot always wait until all the questions are answered before we say "yes."  Sometimes we simply choose to trust and step out in faith.

Daily Collect:
You, Lord, have a habit of inviting us to leave our settled places and follow you.  Be present to us this day and help us to respond in trust and in faith - that we might live fully into the life you are offering.  In the name of the Christ-child, born because of Mary's "yes."  Amen.

Paul Lang