For a lot of people Christmas is full of worry fear and dread. We worry about those travelling (especially in snowy regions), health, money, family harmony, time…the list can go on and on.
I’ll admit right here and now, that I am a bit uptight, but I am slowly learning that I have to loosen up and just trust.
The perfect reminder came for me this last Sunday.
I am not actually using the lectionary readings over advent, but instead am doing a series. So this week’s reading actually came last week for our congregation. An added bonus for me was that we had a guest speaker. She focused on the fact that we often want a very pretty Christmas and we want things to go just so but the reality is we’re not going to have a perfect Christmas, life is pretty messy, it’s ok though because Christ stepped down into the mess of our lives and makes it right.
I can’t summarize in full her words, but they were powerful.
The thing is that for me, it took all day for them to sink in. That evening we had our memorial service and tree lighting. I was much more prepared for the service this year than I have been in the past, yet right before the service every last thing started to go wrong. I was delayed starting the service, and then when I went up on the platform to start I could not find my Bible even though I had just had it in my hand. I looked all over, and had to run over to the house to get it (there is benefit to living on the church parking lot). Then I got up and had no order of service, we were already 15 minutes late starting at this time. Needless to say I was very flustered for the first part of the service and it took me a few minutes to regain my composure.
The service was short, it is meant to be, and we had our tree lighting. Following the tree lighting we were supposed to go carolling around the community, but it was raining so we couldn’t. Instead, we decided to go back inside and just sing some carols and favourite songs for a little while. Completely unplanned on the fly. Let me tell you it was one of the best services I have ever attended. It was then that the message from the morning hit home for me, everything did not have to be perfect.
So in many ways when I read Luke 1:26-38, Mary reminds me of myself. She is perplexed at the appearance of the angel. When he makes his announcement, Mary wonders how it can be possible. It takes a moment for it to sink in and some convincing that this is of God.
In the end though, Mary speaks in faith and says “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” or as we so often read it, “may it be to me as you have said”.
Even though the circumstances seem unimaginable, and far from perfect, faith and obedience are still realistic. Trusting that even though we may not fully grasp where life is headed that God will work it out. As a wise woman recently said something like this to me, “faith is not faith in the good and perfect times, but instead it is in the mess of life where true faith is defined.”