This might seem redundant, but it’s time to prepare for Advent. Of course, Advent is a time of preparing to receive Christ, so this is a case of preparing to prepare.
This year I’m using three folks from the Bible as my guides: Mary, Simeon, and Anna.
We often celebrate Mary for her willingness to say yes to God (Luke 1:26-38). That is definitely important and inspiring! But I think it’s important to remember that Mary was only able to say yes because she knew, trusted, and loved God. Mary describes God as a mighty, holy, merciful, and strong savior and promise keeper (Luke 1:46-55). God asks Mary to do something impossible, but instead of focusing on the task, Mary leans into what she knows about God and responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.” (Luke 1:38)
Like Mary, I want to know, trust, and love God.
Simeon and Anna are people we meet when Mary and Joseph take baby Jesus to be dedicated at the Temple (Luke 2:22-38). Simeon and Anna both recognized Jesus as the Messiah, even though he was years away from performing a miracle or offering a sermon. How could they know? They knew because they each had a deep relationship with God and they both expected God to be at work in the world.
Like Simeon and Anna, I want my relationship with God to inspire me to expect the unexpected.
Simeon was guided by the Holy Spirit to be at the temple the day Mary and Joseph stopped by (Luke 2:27). When Simeon saw the baby in Mary’s arms, he scooped him up and started singing about God’s peace and salvation. I imagine Mary and Joseph were sort of dumbfounded. I’m not sure how I would react if a random older man at church wanted to hold my baby, much less how it would feel to have him spontaneously break into a song about how my baby would change the world! But Simeon was spirit-filled and committed to being on the lookout for the ways God was at work in the world.
Like Simeon, I want to pay attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
Anna is described as a prophet “of a great age” (Luke 2:36-37). After she saw baby Jesus she started telling everyone that she had met redemption face to face. Anna was able to recognize the love of God because she was dedicated to her spiritual practices. In her eighties, Luke says she fasted and prayed “night and day” (Luke 2:37). I think Anna lived this way because she sincerely wanted to grow closer to God. She knew that even after many years of praying, fasting, and worshipping, there was still something to be gained by seeking out a relationship with God.
Like Anna, I want to keep reaching out for God even when God and I have journeyed together for many years.
This Advent I want to be prepared to take my relationship with God a step further. Mary, Simeon, and Anna each show me how to do that, but in their own unique way.
Maybe this Advent I will be like Anna, and God will lead me to a point where I know I’ve seen redemption in the flesh.
Or maybe, like Simeon, I’ll have an opportunity to follow the Spirit to a familiar place, but while I’m there I’ll see something and think, “I’ve waited my whole life for this!”
Or, perhaps, this Advent I will be like Mary and lean into all that I know about God and say wholeheartedly, “at your service, God.”
Whatever happens, I feel better prepared with these three as my guides.
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