Week Forty-Nine Summary and Practice
Sunday, December 5, 2021—Friday, December 10, 2021
Hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without full closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. —Richard Rohr
Theologically speaking, we identify the virtues of faith, hope, and love as participation in the very life of God. We don’t achieve this by will power; we already participate in it by our deepest nature. —Richard Rohr
Hope must be born over and over again, for where there is love, there is always hope. —Ilia Delio
In Bonaventure’s world, the frame of reality was still big, hopeful, and positive. He was profoundly Trinitarian, where the love always and forever flows in one positive and forward direction. —Richard Rohr
Hope fills us with the strength to stay present, to abide in the flow of the Mercy no matter what outer storms assail us. It enters us and fills us with its own life—a quiet strength beyond anything we have ever known. —Cynthia Bourgeault
This dynamic of being able to yield unconditionally to God’s future is what John of the Cross calls hope, a hope that exists without the signature of our life and works, a hope independent of us and our accomplishments. —Constance FitzGerald
Presenting Our Lives to God
Author and CAC teacher Brian McLaren understands Jesus’ mother Mary as an example for all of us to find a larger hope by surrendering our lives to God. Here he comments on Luke’s Gospel and offers an Advent practice inspired by Mary:
All of us experience this sense of frustration, disappointment, impatience, and despair at times. We all feel that we have the capacity to give birth to something beautiful and good and needed and wonderful in the world. But our potential goes unfulfilled, or our promising hopes miscarry. So we live on one side and then on the other of the border of despair.
And then the impossible happens. . . .
In Luke’s telling of the birth of Jesus, God aligns with the creative feminine power of womanhood rather than the violent masculine power of statehood. The doctrine of the virgin birth, it turns out, isn’t about bypassing sex but about subverting violence. The violent power of top-down patriarchy is subverted not by counterviolence but by the creative power of pregnancy. It is through what proud men have considered “the weaker sex” that God’s true power enters and changes the world. That, it turns out, is exactly what Mary understood the messenger to be saying: [read her Magnificat, especially Luke 1:48, 51, 52, 53]. . . .
So Mary presents herself to the Holy Spirit to receive and cooperate with God’s creative power. She surrenders and receives, she nurtures and gives her all, because she dares to believe the impossible is possible. Her son Jesus will consistently model her self-surrender and receptivity to God, and he will consistently prefer the insightful kindness of motherhood to the violent blindness of statehood.
That’s what it means to be alive in the adventure of Jesus. We present ourselves to God—our bodies, our stories, our futures, our possibilities, even our limitations. “Here I am,” we say with Mary, “the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me according to your will.”
So in this Advent season—this season of awaiting and pondering the coming of God in Christ—let us light a candle for Mary. And let us, in our own hearts, dare to believe the impossible by surrendering ourselves to God, courageously cooperating with God’s creative, pregnant power—in us, for us, and through us. If we do, then we, like Mary, will become pregnant with holy aliveness. . . .
Activate: Start each day this week putting Mary’s prayer of commitment and surrender, “Let it be to me according to your will,” into your own words. Let this be a week of presenting your life to God so that “holy aliveness” grows in you.
Meditate: After lighting a candle, hold the words, “Here I am, the Lord’s servant,” in your heart for a few minutes in silence. Try to return to those words many times in the week ahead.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (Jericho Books: 2014), 68, 69–70.
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