Dr Kate Harrison Brennan launches our Advent series with a reflection on Christ interrupting our world in a beautiful, political and dramatic way.
Adam Gowen is a Wiradjuri man living on Yuin country who is passionate about faith, culture, identity, instruments, and chooks. Adam and his wife Lisa have three wonderful kids whom they adore.
Today's reading is Luke 1:39-45
Our senses are the way we perceive and experience the world around us. Combined with our memories, they help us interpret what is happening to, in and around us. Moments of surprise happen when we experience something unexpected. The shock of cold as your skin hits the water of the river you've just jumped into; the beauty of a view from a mountain top after the journey to get there; the taste of a particularly delicious strawberry as you sink your teeth into it; the smell of your grandma’s cooking; the sound of children laughing together. On some level these things can be anticipated. But we are surprised when the experience of them is more intense, or is different to our expectations.
The coming of Jesus as a baby was foretold and there were people who were anticipating a Messiah. However, the experience of him coming was vastly different to the expectations that had been built. How can we appropriately anticipate Jesus as we look to his return? Rather than external form, method, knowledge, and information, we should aim to build expectation and hope for Jesus in our spirits.
We read in Luke’s gospel that as Mary (who was carrying Jesus) greets Elizabeth, the baby John leaps with joy and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, prompting an outpouring of prophecy. This was not only a natural experience, but something deeper. This was a spiritual encounter.
It reminds me of last year, when I was taking my son to school one day. We had a little bit of extra time on our hands (a miracle in itself) so I took him down to a little walking trail by an inlet and we sat. Sometimes when I’m feeling adventurous I try to get my kids to sit in silence (a feat that is seldom accomplished). My hope is to plant a small seed that would develop within them a capacity to be still and know that God is God. We concentrate on what we can perceive – sounds, smells, sights, mostly environmental things. As we sat in silence that day, a baby bandicoot hopped out and circled us. It was something extraordinary – a moment where we were surprised and delighted by the beauty of the unexpected – in some ways similar to Elizabeth seeing Mary.
For me the spiritual and the temporal are inextricably linked. I love seeing God’s glory reflected in his creation and this moment was one where my son and I experienced a natural occurrence that reminded us of God’s goodness. As we reflect on the birth of the Messiah this Advent, and as we prepare our homes and hearts, may we experience the unexpected beauty he loves to compose. As we anticipate with our spirits and as we carry Jesus into all the situations we encounter, may something resonate in others as we express the hope and joy we have as we play our part in seeing his purpose outworked.
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Daily Reading Luke 1:39-45
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”