The Surrendered Peace of Advent
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Part of the beauty of Advent for women is getting to spend extended time with Mary and Elizabeth…observing their inner life and their friendship and their boldness and their authenticity. We get to linger in Luke 1 and 2, marinating in the ways that uniquely female hearts and bodies and minds interact with the good news of God’s coming.
This Sunday we lit the candle of peace in the Advent wreath.
Mary and Elizabeth’s worlds were not really resonating with an “all is calm, all is bright” peace-vibe when their pregnancies happened. There was a cruel and self-absorbed ruler in the land. Elizabeth’s husband couldn’t speak, no doubt upending his priestly career. Mary’s closest relationships must have been suddenly tumultuous; hard conversations and confusing explanations likely abounded for her. Peace. Hmm. It wasn’t a natural by-product of their life circumstances.
So how does peace show up in their story…or in our story…when it’s so messy?
It seems there is an aspect of God’s peace we normally orient toward in our Christian life. It is expressed in the line that often accompanies angels’ announcement in the Bible—the “Fear not!” reassurance from God provides peace, even in our most fearful places…even when we are afraid of God. This God-to-man, angel-to-woman, heavens-to-earth exhortation, “Fear not!” is a great grace when we are caught up in the concern, anxiety, angst, or even panic of a given moment. God sees our fear and speaks to it, telling us it does not need to have the final word.
But there is another element of peace, a human one, that we hear in Mary’s response to the angel. Three powerful words initiate her life of surrender to God’s messy presence in Jesus under her very roof. She says, “Let it be…”
The surrender that infuses this phrase is an opening of her heart, a willingness of her spirit, an acceptance of her own limits. Her surrender allows even those of us reading her story, cheering her on, to exhale and relax into the mystery and the potential of the moment. Her surrender makes space for peace.
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Mary’s “Let it be” is an open door to presence with God—the One who does not make sense, who does not make it all right (right now), who does not appear in the way we imagine, and who does not demand that we be anything other than who or what we are. He is the God who merely (but astonishingly) says, “Do not be afraid,” and then asks us to surrender to his coming. To us. To the world. Just as we are. Just as it is.
God: “Fear not.”
The Woman: “Let it be…”
May we allow divine presence and reassurance to lead us to surrender, even when all is not calm and all is not bright.
In closing, we invite you to spend time with three scriptures. As you read them, ask God where your own “Let it be…” can meet with God’s “Fear not” to bring peace in this day, in this season:
Peace to you this day, friends.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. Here is the Bible Project’s Advent Video on Peace.