Sunday, December 21, 2014 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

Advent 2014

Sunday, December 21

Fourth Sunday of Advent


"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."  - Luke 2:16-20


When I read about the birth of Jesus, I often think about God's presence during that time.  I imagine God watching over this newborn child who was sent to be the messenger from heaven and witness to the world.  Mary must have been comforted by the presence of God, giving her the strength and faith to serve as the mother of Christ.  Just as God entrusted Jesus to Mary and Joseph, God entrusted Jesus to all of us.  This gift of God's unconditional love and unfailing grace is something we hope to pass along to our own children. 


"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom:  and the grace of God was upon Him."  - Luke 2:52



When our son, Jack, was born I was filled with joy and excitement.   I was also overwhelmed with anxiety and fear.  I worked very hard to limit the time when he was not with me.  I hoped that as long as he was in my direct care then I could protect him from any harm.  Yet I still had fears, sometimes irrational, that overshadowed my joy as a new mother. 


I found myself unable to say a portion of The Lord's Prayer.  Even though I didn't believe that God caused bad things to happen to people, I had often heard the phrase "it was God's will" in an attempt to offer comfort to someone who had suffered a loss.  In church, I could not utter the words, "Thy will be done" without waves of fear and doubt running through me.  I thought I was abandoning my role as a protective mother if I prayed for God's will to be done to my child. 


My parents and their closest friends were aware of my anxieties, and one of those friends, Carol Anne Richardson, offered the most comforting words that would change my life.  She shared with me her belief that God shares our sorrows when illness, death, or disappointment enter our lives.  She believed that God only wants what is best for us - health, happiness, and a life fulfilling the kingdom of God.  The bible presents God to us as a loving parent who guides us to our salvation.  Carol Anne helped me see that God does not intentionally place us in harm's way or inflict disease and death as a test of our faith, but offers us the promise of love and comfort when these things do happen to us. 


I was able to embrace the notion of God's will as something I desperately needed, rather than something I feared.  Each Sunday when my church family speaks The Lord's Prayer, I say "Thy will be done" with great conviction - almost pleading for the assurance of God's will for my children's lives.  Just as I am reminded of my good friend's wise words, I take comfort in God as a loving parent granting us all the blessings of grace and peace.


"Suppose, on my bed, I call you to mind and meditate on you in the watches of the night, you have been my help and I sing out my joy in the shadow of your wings."  - Psalm 63:6-7


- Shannon Foxx Willhite