Dec 1 – It’s Out of Our Hands

Waiting Room

December 1, 2014

When my husband and I were first married, having children of our own was out of the question.  When I said, “I do,” I had adjusted my expectations of motherhood to the reality that we would adopt children to create our family. And then one day, three years into our marriage we learned that science had caught up with us.

A fertility doctor came and said to us, “Do not be afraid, for behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a child.”  We asked a lot of questions like, “How can this be?” The fertility doctor then explained the science of IVF with ICSI and I suspect our faces looked as surprised and confused as Mary’s when Gabriel explained God’s plan to get her pregnant. The prophecy that we could get pregnant was a hope for the future of our family that had never before been a part of our imagination.

Once the prophecy was made, we began the journey of turning ourselves over to a power greater than ourselves (fertility nurses and doctors, and God) and waiting to see what would happen.  Waiting is hard work because the work being done is out of our control.

Would the prophecy come true? Would the embryo form? Would the cells divide? Would the blastosphere implant?

There is nothing we can do to force a prophecy to unfold even if it was proclaimed by an angel, a messenger of God. We can only be very patient and wait faithfully to see what God is growing in us. When we get a glimpse of God’s vision for our future and our imagination expands to include possibilities we never hoped for before, our job is to get out of God’s way and silence our own expectations. We must make room for God’s plan. In order for God’s promise for our future to unfold, we must wait in the darkness and allow the work to be done on us, hidden inside, and out of our hands.

The Rev. Adrien Dawson is the rector of St. Mark’s on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, Pikesville

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Nov 30 – Beginning the Blessed Journey


November 30, 2014

And so we begin again in a season of endings. The autumn leaves are gone. The days are dark early. Five-thirty and the stars are out. January is near. But like some herald of other things, Advent invites us on a familiar journey that is still new each time.

This is a season of journeys. Some may indeed go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. Others may cross the continent. Or, we might merely go across town. Those are physical journeys. Advent also calls us to take a spiritual journey where we meet ourselves anew.

To say we have passed this way before, said these prayers and sang these songs, only shields us from what is waiting to be discovered this time around. Another year older, with luck maybe wiser, or at least enough to know this year’s journey to our soul’s Bethlehem will not be like last year’s.

Everyone’s invited to take this trip. But this journey takes courage. Remember, everybody didn’t stand up and walk out of Africa those many millions of years ago. Only a few, the ones curious about what world lay beyond the hills. How many ancient mariners got into their dug-out canoes and pushed off into the open water, while the rest of the village stood on the shore, waving good-bye?

An Advent journey of the soul holds its own perils. Our interior landscapes can be as treacherous as the Mojave Desert, as storm tossed as the South Atlantic, as bewildering as the source of the Nile. Only hardy, Advent adventurers need apply.

Who knows what will be found? But when we arrive at our sacred gathering place where vigil candles light the dark and the stillness before Christmas settles upon us, may our souls listen for the One who is the beginning and end of all things; the One who is, who was and who is to come; the one who is making us anew.

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The Rev. M. Dion Thompson is the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant, Baltimore.

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An Advent Invitation

Purple Candle

November 27, 2014

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.

This little poem by Madeleine L’Engle resonates in me every time Advent comes around.  It invites us to think about what “fills” us, what takes our time, during this season of preparation for the birth of Immanuel, God-with-us. Is it going to be junk, or substance?

December is a tricky month. There’s a whole lot of holiday hoopla shouting at us from every outlet, inviting us to fill ourselves with all sorts of things. Most of them give a false promise of happiness. Most of them will leave us hungry.

Even while we want and need to tend our various shopping obligations, there’s another part of us that wants and needs a quiet space, a moment of reflection, an encounter with the transcendent. We need to know that life is more than “stuff,” and that we can make a different choice, and fill ourselves with something that satisfies, something that lasts.

That’s why we’re offering these Advent reflections. For just a few moments a day, we can fill ourselves with something good. These meditations are going to guide me through this holy season. Please join me as we travel Advent together.

The Rt. Rev. Heather E. Cook is bishop suffragan of Maryland