Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Advent Reflection

Today the sun was brilliant at Ein Kerem, a suburb west of Jerusalem. It is said that after the angel appeared to Mary, she travelled from Nazareth to this place to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth too was with child. After their embrace of greeting and joy possibly they sat under an olive or almond tree and sipped tea. Maybe they strolled along a stone path and picked up the dried pomegranates that had fallen to the ground. Perhaps Mary glanced out of Elizabeth’s kitchen window into the terraced Judean hillside. We do know that when she saw Elizabeth she expressed her joy in the beautiful song, now known to us as the Magnificat.

‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary’s faith must have been great for such a young, young woman. While other girls her age were occupied with adolescent activities, Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit. In the blink of an eye, her youthful womb had become a temple for the Christ who would be born some months later. She understands her new role as best as she could and in faith, her soul, her body, her character, her entire self magnifies the Lord. God has broken into humanity through Mary. And the world was changed. Mary sings.

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t sing such a great song, at least not at first. Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t. It’s a big task to give birth and to give birth to Jesus, well, that’s a whole other story in and of itself. And it is. It is the Christian story of redemption and hope. Transformation comes through this tiny babe and his young mother. Thank goodness that Mary accepted this call upon her life with such profound and uncomplicated joy. Because from that birth onward we have been charted for a new life and a new hope.

Ein Kerem today is not the same place as it was over 2,000 years ago. The name is not the same either. It has had its conflict and struggle just like every other piece of land in Israel and Palestine. Yet its place is secured in the holy terrain of Christendom. The photos are of the Church of the Visitation cared for now by Benedictine Monks. I found it to be a very serene setting and I could imagine Mary glorifying God in the way that she did. May your waiting be filled with peace for soon the Christ child shall appear. Amen.

1 comment:

hoppy said...

Great pictures as always...Magnificat! And that Whizzer! What a gal.