Last night at church we read the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The pastor talked about the courage Mary had to put her life and the expectations for her life (she was going to be married!) on hold as she submitted to God's plan for her life. It was a hard thing to do. We discussed stories of courage that have inspired us and those times when we wish we had had more courage. I thought of people who have faced long illnesses and others who were navigating the unique limitations of older age, and pastors who were confronting resistance to their ministry, and people living on the streets because of unforeseen crises in their lives, and refugees in tent camps with no promise of ever returning to their homes. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to get through the day.
During the service we watched a music video of Alison Crowe singing the Beatles' song Let It Be. I had never thought of the Beatles writing a Christmas Carol and I don't know if they intended it to be or not (my wife said she heard Mother Mary was code for marijuana). No matter what was intended Alison Crowe interpreted it as a song of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Let it be with me, she told the angel Gabriel according to God's will. Mary surrendered her plans for her life and waited to see what God had for her even though it must have seemed almost impossible to believe.
We find ourselves at times in places of waiting and praying not knowing how our lives will work out. Perhaps our plans failed, or we never saw "that" coming, or we feel let down and defeated. It might be a good thing. God may be ready to do something and when we let go of our plans we may be open to hearing about his.
Mary's response to Gabriel was an instance of giving herself to God. We talk about that a lot but it often takes a crisis, a fork in the road, a moment of "I did not see that coming", for us to come to that place of surrender and waiting on a word from the LORD. Brian McLaren, in an advent meditation, suggests starting our days during Advent with Mary's words, "Let it be to me according to your will." Meditate on those words in the context of your life right now and pray them in your own words. Let this be a season of presenting your life to God, McLaren says. (His book is We Make The Road By Walking)