Fourth Advent Devotion 2017
4th Advent Devotion
Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem
24 December 2017
Song: “Light a Candle in a Darkened Place” verses 1, 5 by Clare Stainsby
Light a candle in a darkened place,
In its flame see hope on every face, Christ our Savior will be born,
Heralding a brand new dawn,
So let it burn.
Mary found true favour with the Lord,
Yet she trembled at his strange reward,
Knew this was the special One,
Hope for many through God’s Son,
So let it burn.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
How Will This Be?
I can only imagine Mary’s astonishment, her doubt and her concern, as she listened to the words of the angel Gabriel. I’m sure her mind was filled with a million questions as the angel gave her a glimpse of what was to come. But only one question made it out of her mouth.
“How will this be?”
Though Mary’s faith was strong and she had found favor with God, her humanness prevented her from being able to see the whole picture; it kept her from fully grasping God’s vision and caused her to question.
Mary isn’t the only one.
As I look at this world- the violence and the oppression, the injustice and the poverty- I, too, start to question. When I look at my own life- my unmet desires and relational challenges, my personal struggles that threaten to swallow me up- the questions of ‘how?’ stream from my mouth. “How will the lion lay with the lamb? How will the captives be set free? How will You be my refuge? How will it all be okay?”
I am sure I am not the only one.
Though we all question, I think we can learn something from Mary. Even in her fear and confusion, her question was grounded in faith. She did not ask if it was possible. She did not ask if it would really happen. She did not even ask why she was chosen. She trusted that it would be, even though she did not understand how.
I believe that when we question in this way, when we ask our ‘hows?’ in faith, God’s answer will always be the same:
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
We need not fear, because God is the how. The love of the Father, Son, and Spirit make it possible. Faith allows us to be the laborers. The fruit of Mary’s faithfulness, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, is God’s greatest blessing to us all.
As I ask my questions, I will do so in faith, believing that the fruit of my labor together with the power of God’s love, will bring forth God’s great vision.
Light the fourth candle
Let us pray, Lord, renew our faith in your promise and allow us to participate in your vision. Ignite the Holy Spirit in us and overshadow us with your presence. Amen.
Devotion Written by, Elizabeth Heft a United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries Missionary serving as a teacher and mentor at Jerusalem School Bethlehem in Beit Jala. She also serves at the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem, connecting with locals and foreigners, helping them to see the complexity of this place.
Picture Credit: a nativity scene in a cave at the Shepherd’s field in Beit Sahour, taken by Elizabeth Heft.
Song: “Light a Candle in a Darkened Place” words and music by Clare Stainsby, used with permission.
Advent Devotions provided by the Methodist Liaison office in Jerusalem, through the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, The Methodist Church of Great Britain, and the World Methodist Council of Churches.