3-Minute Prayer Break–Say Yes by Bob Franke

The Advent/Christmas season is a blessed time for all, but sometimes it can be a painful time for those who experience separation from loved ones (as, for example, in time of war) or death of close friends or relatives.

When Mary said yes to the angel Gabriel (see last post), it was surely an exciting and joyous time, even if there was the terrifying side of being chosen as mother of the Son of God. It is right to celebrate the joyous event of the Incarnation, but sometimes we forget the high price Mary paid to follow through on her commitment to God.

In her obedience to God, Mary almost lost Joseph. Surely some people ridiculed her for having a child out-of-wedlock, perhaps even more so if she tried to explain about the angel’s involvement. Later, she and Joseph would face the labor of birthing in Bethlehem, away from familiar surroundings. They would have to flee as political refugees to a foreign land to save their child from death. One day, Mary would see her beloved child put to death on the cross.

Saying “yes” to God carries the great joy of new life and resurrection, but sometimes we Americans forget what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the “cost of discipleship.” Following Christ is not always easy.  

Below is a 3-minute prayer break, a mini-time-out from the busyness of holiday preparations. The song “Say Yes” by Bob Franke (name rhymes with Yankee) reminds us to stay true to Christ even when the going gets tough. (Thanks to Barbara Keffer for sending it to me! And, of course, thanks to Bob Franke for such an inspiring song.)

If you are receiving this message via e-mail, the YouTube video may not appear. You can find it by visiting YouTube and typing in the search window these words: say yes by bob franke . It’s worth the effort.

May God grant you a peace-filled Christmas and bless you in 2012!

Until next time, Amen!

Theotokos–Carrying Christ our Light

 “Greetings,  favored one! The Lord is with you. . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” –The angel Gabriel to Mary, in Luke 1:28, 30-31.

If you’ve ever been on crutches, you know that carrying things is a challenge. I broke my leg a few weeks ago, and find myself stuffing cans of pop into my sweater pockets, shuffling dishes along the countertop, and sliding books along the floor using my crutch as a hockey stick (apologies to librarians!). Objects tucked into my waistband tumbled to the floor so many times I wished I was a kangaroo with a built-in giant pocket.

In the midst of this, Advent began and I found myself thinking about the mystery of the Incarnation. It would not have mattered if Mary had used crutches: the baby Jesus was growing deep within her womb and naturally went with her everywhere she went.

Theotokos--detail from the Virgin of the Sign Icon

In the Eastern Christian Church, the mother of Jesus is often called Theotokos, a Greek title that means “God-Bearer.” Mary carried Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, within her being in a literal sense, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Early church fathers observed that while Christ was truly divine, his truly human side grew out of Mary’s flesh and blood.

That a woman of 2,000 years ago carried Christ within her, feeding him from her very body through the umbilical cord, is reason enough to be filled with awe and wonder. However, this amazing spiritual truth does not end there. For Mary, as premiere disciple, is a model or “spiritual type” of what we are also called to do. We are to carry Christ within our hearts and souls, to “give birth” by bringing his words of mercy and his compassionate presence to all those we encounter.

In this manner, the words of the angel Gabriel are also addressed to each one of us: “Greetings, favored one!” (“Hail, Mary, full of grace!”). Each one of us, and all of us together, are “favored” by God, shown by the superabundant love of Christ by his dying for the whole world.  As a result, we, too, are favored, that is, graced by God,  and chosen to bring the Christ our Light into the world.

May God bless you this Advent and Christmas season–and may the Spirit empower you more and more each day to “give birth” to Christ in the world.

Until next time, Amen!

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