Invitations. This is a season filled with invitations—to people’s homes for parties and meals, to purchase tangible things promising fulfillment and to worship in Word and Sacrament. For some, it is a whirlwind of joy and possibility; for others it can be laced with loneliness and loss. In truth, the season is both darkness and light, woven inextricably into the fabric of living.
In Luke’s Gospel, Mary receives the invitation to co-mingle with the Holy One and she, with wonder and I can only imagine some mixture of amazement and trepidation, accepts: here I am; let it be with me according to your word. In Matthew’s Gospel, it is Joseph who receives the invitation to consent as a full and willing partner to nurture this new thing God is doing. And accept he does, going to great lengths and some personal cost to protect and provide safe space for this Emmanuel, God-with-us. I feel quite sure that neither one of them knew just what would come as a result of their willingness, but that didn’t seem to deter them.
In the midst of this season, it is easy, tempting even, to pause briefly honor and admire these two faithful people and be thankful for their willingness to consent. And then go on with our own lives. But we, no less than they, are the recipients of divine invitation. We are to be bearers and nurturers of Love in ourselves, in those around us. I wonder, what does that mean in our 21st century lives? Like Mary and Joseph, we won’t truly know where being willing partners with God will take us in the future. But surely that shouldn’t stop us either.
How do you hear this invitation from God? What helps you remember, affirm and practice truly taking in the truth that this God-with-us, this incarnation, isn’t for Jesus only? The intimate intertwining of God and human, of Spirit and matter, is in each of us, in all of creation. In saying our own yes to this invitation, we are consenting to see and embrace God in our own ordinariness of living, shimmering with more than meets the eye. It is already present in each interaction that brings us closer to together, in the connections of love between us.
Perhaps this day you can move through your life breathing yes—to the mysterious presence of Love hidden deep within you, moving you to embrace love and reach out in love. Following a form found in Daily Prayer for All Seasons, we can join in praying:
Great Spirit, God, Creator of all, we receive you into our hearts, our minds, our Souls: Grant us Mary’s wisdom to heed the inner voice that we know is you. Guide us to accept your invitation to serve and to do so with strength and courage. Amen.
May we join with Mary, and Joseph and all those who have had the courage to embrace Love in concrete and tangible ways, informing how we treat ourselves and others, turning the known world upside down, that it may be right side up.
And speaking of invitations, in addition to joining the celebrations of Christmas Eve and Day liturgies, if you don’t have a place to share a meal on Christmas Eve, please join our family and other parishioners for a simple supper from 6-8:30pm at our home. Please let us know by replying to this email.