Posts Tagged ‘God’s gifts’

Advent 3: Ladies’ Night

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior… (Luke 1:46-47)

Well, it’s Saturday night, and it’s ladies’ night! Sort of. I’m sitting here letting the kitchen floor dry, and I realized that I haven’t written anything about the Magnificat (the song of Mary), which was the Gospel reading on Sunday. And I’m laughing at how much life changes … A Saturday night with a new mop is big excitement around here.

Sometimes I’m shocked that so much real estate in Scripture is given to Mary, a humble, otherwise unremarkable woman. We don’t know much about her, except that she was a young unwed mother, and that later on was devoted to her son.

The grumpy side of me asks, why would a woman living two thousand years ago, in circumstances like hers, sing such a song of praise? She was taking a huge risk with the out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and even bigger risks with pregnancy itself. Childbirth was scary in those days!

How did she gain such a sense of complete trust? I know many faithful people who would have trouble doing what Mary did.

I wonder if the main energy behind her faith came from the promise made to her as a woman. In those days a woman was nothing without a son. God gave her the gift of being legitimate and recognized. Those are gifts you can’t understand until you have been without them. Indeed, God looked upon her with favor.

May God grant his favor to all who are place-less, faceless, or nameless.

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Advent Week 3: like those who dream

Psalm 126  (NRSV)

A Song of Ascents.  
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream. 
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ 
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
   and we rejoiced. 

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
   like the watercourses in the Negeb. 
5 May those who sow in tears
   reap with shouts of joy. 
6 Those who go out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
   carrying their sheaves.

As I listened to the liturgist read Psalm 126 on Sunday morning, my mind filled with questions.  Who are “those who dream?”  Doesn’t everyone dream?  Why is it that dreams are associated with laughter and joy in this song — after all, aren’t some dreams disturbing?

Is there something about being able to dream, or being able to enjoy your dreams, that the Psalmist wanted to get across?

Many of us don’t get the chance to enjoy our dreams.  If you hit the ground running from the time you wake up, and collapse into bed at the end of the evening, chances are that your dreams (even if they are pleasant) stay forever buried in some deep crevice of the mind:  you simply don’t have time to recall them.

Often, when we do remember a dream, it is a distressing one.  For some reason the dreams that reflect our inner anxiety and suffering are more likely to weigh on us during the waking hours.  Maybe you’d rather forget those dreams.

So, I wonder if what we have in Psalm 126 is a reflection on being human.  When one is in right relationship with God, then everyday activities eating and drinking and dreaming are expressions of joy.  When one is estranged from God, everyday activities only seem to magnify the distance.  “Those who dream” are those who can enjoy God’s gifts on a daily and nightly basis.

This Advent season, we might ask Christ, who is fully human and fully divine, to help us be fully human.  To faithfully enjoy our minds, souls, and bodies — this wonderful combination of gifts given only to us human beings — would indeed be a dream.