“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:45
Advent is in full swing at our house. This year, the plain light fixture in the dining room begged for decoration, and I knew just the thing–a old fashioned, Tasha Tudor-inspired hanging wreath, with tall candles ready to be set cheerily ablaze. A few weeks ago, an unprecedented two hours of quiet at home finally gave me the opportunity I needed, and now the homemade wreath hangs over our dining room table laden with red bows and white candles, waiting for another mealtime.
We light candles at dinner, following the traditional pattern: one the first week, two the second, three the third, and finally four will be lit the final week this month, nightly prayers and readings centering our celebration. Advent. The word means “arrival,” and yet it’s not just the arrival but the season of Advent we’re celebrating, this whole month of December set aside to remember what has gone before and what’s yet to come.
When the angel makes his stunning announcement that a Child will be born to Mary, she reacts not with disbelief, but a question: “How will this be?” Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her, and adds that “even Elizabeth”–her elderly, formerly barren cousin–is in her sixth month of pregnancy. Luke is kind enough to tell us what happened next … “Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth…” I’ve missed it for years, but the little phrase jumps out at me this time–she went to see Elizabeth in a hurry. Why? I think she wanted to see evidence of what the angel had told her: “Nothing shall be impossible with God.”
Elizabeth’s baby jumps in her womb at Mary’s greeting, and she gives this beautiful pronouncement: “Blessed is she who believed there would be a fulfillment of that which was spoken to her by the Lord.” The words sting my heart every time, me recognizing how often I’m not that girl–how over the years my faith in some promises has faded, chilled by the wind of all I can see that dims promises once bright.
Advent is a microcosm look at a grand reality: a time set aside to acknowledge the in-between-nature of our life as Christians. We live in the now and the not-yet; the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts even as we seek Him; the Father is the king of all yet the enemy holds sway still; we are seated with Christ yet toiling away here in spite of it.
During Advent, we read of God’s promises made and fulfilled, over and over, through centuries of history with His people. And my simple heart wonders … What if we extended the idea of advent celebration to include all the things we’re waiting for? What if we turned every day from just-getting-through to a celebratory anticipation? Perhaps if we find ourselves stung at the thought of believing for our futures, what we need is more remembering of our pasts. When was the last time you sat down and reminded yourself of all the times God has already come through? Would a reading of our own histories with God help our hearts find their way to faith?
On alternating Mondays a group of ladies gathers at a local coffeeshop to check in with one another; to share what we’ve learned, how scripture is speaking to us, to ask prayer in different areas. And as we tell our stories and listen to one another’s, we’re all growing stronger in heart, as the truth is evidenced around us: Nothing shall be impossible with God.
Don’t miss the arrival, this December. And don’t forget to remember all He’s already done, all He’s doing around you, as you wait for what He’s yet to do. Be a woman who believes there will be a fulfillment of that which was spoken to her by the Lord.