Advent Reading Day 23 – Quiet Reflection

46 And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.  Luke 1

There are conflicting interests at work when we get this close to Christmas.  On the one hand there are many built in traditions that lead us to a quiet mulling over and reflection at this time of year.  There are the surprise gifts that we receive which inspire a moment of wonder in us.  There are the Christmas letters that we write in which we reflect on all that this last year has meant and the numerous events for good and bad that have happened.   There are the Christmas cards we receive in which people whom had an incredible impact on our lives at some point in time remember us in the lost art of card sending and letter writing.   There are the Christmas carols that play over the loudspeakers most places we go – all of them beckoning for some reflection during this time of year.  There are the family gatherings ripe with opportunity to reminisce about what this last year has meant.  But, then there is the pace of Christmas – the furious industrial machine that continues to churn and drive us to do more, be more, see more, play more, make more, eat more… more, more, more!

The pace of life this close to Christmas day drives us to our knees in prayer that the holiday will soon be over so that we can rest and come to our senses once again.  A season so full of opportunity for reflection is potentially stripped bare by the demands and the urgency of December 25 being right around the corner.  But, today could you lay all of that aside for a few minutes?  Would you take some time to pause, quiet yourself, catch your breath and reflect?  I know you don’t have time, but you also don’t have time not to.   A season so ripe with opportunity to take you deeper into all that Jesus’ coming means is at its pinnacle in this moment.   The fact that all of the craziness is calling us to do otherwise means that this is the perfect time for us to lay it all down, reflect and refocus.

My encouragement to you today is to take a look at Mary’s Song in Luke 1.  Quiet yourself and then read it through 3 times…slowly, quietly, longingly.   After Mary gets the unbelievable news that she is going to give birth to God’s Son and meets with her cousin Elizabeth, she provides us with an amazing song of contemplation.  She contemplates all that God has done and all that He is about to do not only for her, but for the whole of humanity.   She reflects and remembers His promises and makes note of His Presence with His people throughout the generations.  This Magnicat becomes a great model for us of what it means to remember and reflect even during the most stressful of junctures on who God is, what He has done and what He has promised to do.  The Magnicat is The Word of God to cause us to pause and reflect on the bigger Plan of God and acknowledge with gratitude that He has called us to be included in it.

This kind of activity takes on even greater significance when we consider Jesus as Emmanuel – God With Us.  It means that He has been Present with us throughout every moment of these past 24 hours and that He will be Present with us throughout the next 24.   By quiet and reflection we acknowledge His presence, but we also grow in intimacy and faith…because we take note of His Presence with us.    Today, may you find that place of quiet reflection and see Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God With Us”, with you.

Prayer:  Rather than a prayer today I’d suggest a spiritual practice.  It doesn’t have to take long, but it can go a long way in deepening your walk with Jesus as the craziness of the season presses in.  Tonight, after reading through Mary’s Song, take some time to center on God.  Rest before Him.  Quiet yourself and enter into what the Early Church Fathers called “holy leisure.”  Allow yourself opportunity to waste some time in the Presence of God.  Then, take the following 5 steps, adapted from St. Ignatius:

1. Stillness : Recall God’s Presence with you.

2. Gratitude: Express Thankfulness to God for His Presence with you.

3. Reflection: Look back on the events of the day and check your motives.

4. Sorrow: Ask for forgiveness.

5. Hopefulness: Resolve to grow in maturity and intimacy with The Lord.

May you know Jesus as God with you in ever increasing ways each day as you pause and reflect on Him and His coming.

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