There are so many questions this time of year! What are you getting Mattie for Christmas? Where shall we have our Christmas gathering? How much shall we donate to needy people this holiday? Do we have enough money to pay for all our Christmas gifts and decorations? These are questions that deserve answers, and yet...! I have a question for us to consider at this time of the year: “How do you talk to God?”
We might be hard-pressed to answer this question. It might seem to be a deeply private matter that is no one else's business. I certainly have never had anyone ask me that question in a grocery store or in any public place. But it remains a very important question that begs for an answer: “How do you talk to God?”
In today's Gospel, Mary, who previously had been talking with God through the intermediary of an angel, visits her cousin Elizabeth, to share the news that she was to give birth to Jesus. (Incidentally, this is one of the few Scripture verses that feature two women speaking to and with each other – no men present!) We are not privy to the entire conversation, but there was a kinship of blood and mutual respect between the women. Elizabeth even know of the pregnancy before being told since the baby in Mary’s womb “leaped for joy.”
How have we been speaking and praying to God this Advent? Have we prayed often? Have we prayed well? Have we prayed from the heart? Have we prayed with family members? Have we prayed with our faith community? Have we kept a prayer journal and done some serious writing in it? Have we lived our prayer and put it into action?
Many of us ask things of God but fail to wait for the response tom our prayer. Sometimes it tries our patience when God's answer is delayed. Sometimes the answer comes in a disguised form that we do not easily recognize. Sometimes it comes in stages we don't anticipate. Sometimes it doesn't seem to come at all because we're not paying careful attention and miss what is obvious to other people. Sometimes we may not be able to handle the answer!
We are loved so much by God all the time, everywhere and without measure! Advent is a good time to remember this: we are loved so much that Jesus was sent into the world to bring us closer to God and to save us. God has given us such a gift through Jesus. That is why Christmas is a gift-giving time. The gifts we give each other are precious but they are at best simply poor reflections of the great Gift given us in Jesus. Our best prayer is one of thanks. Yes, Advent is a time of thanksgiving, hope and praise of God, for we are truly blessed!
Jesus in the morning
Jesus in the evening
Jesus when the sun goes down.