This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas. You can read the first in the series here if you want.
As I write this I’m in a lovely setting, looking out over our snowy Minnesota – an outward picture of peace and calm that is definitely not what I’m feeling inside. In my fingers and toes and stomach is… fear – that indefinable tingly, insufficient, I can’t get it done emotion. I need to do, to create, to produce and I don’t have it in me. I’m not enough.
Is that feeling more common at Christmas than at other times of the year?
Are many dealing with an over-the-top, over-committed, out-of-control chaos of the season?
In this season of Advent I think of the pregnant, unwed teenager, Mary. Talk about out of feelings of inadequacy and chaos.
But Jesus was formed in Mary as she got out of the way. She accepted her out-of-controlness and not-enoughness. Jesus was enough as she allowed Him to be formed in her. She submitted to more of Him and less of her.
“May it be to me according to your word.” is her response to the crazy, crazy news that not only is she pregnant without a husband, but it’s like, God, who’s growing in her.
I think so much at Advent about the theme of Jesus being formed in me as He was formed in Mary. Not His physical body, but His character.
It seems to me that a huge part of spiritual formation is acknowledging our lack of control, lack of adequacy, even in the ordinary days when we’re less busy, but still human, and need to choose God’s “enoughness”.
Last week I read the words of Rory Noland, who pointed out the parallel theme in the life of John the Baptist who said, “He must increase; I must decrease.”
If Jesus is going to be formed in Mary, in John, in me, in anyone, we must make room for Him to increase.
Rory suggested a breath prayer for Advent: Increase in me, Jesus.
I love that and have been praying it daily. In the morning in preparation. In desperate dependance as I write. In parking lots and long lines out of frustration. In busyness when the fear of “not enough” gives me chills.
Increase in me, Jesus.
Become more in me as I acknowledge I’m not enough.
Is that a Breath Prayer that you might pray today? Or do you have another Breath Prayer that is meaningful to you this season?