This is the message I gave at Deep River Friends Meeting December 16, 2022 based on Luke 1: 46-55:
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
In our family, the advent season is extra special. M, our middle daughter, was born on Nov 27, 2009. Just a few days before the start of advent on the liturgical calendar.
L, our oldest daughter, was born on December 19, 2007. She was due on Christmas, but thankfully my wife Emily’s prayers were heard and L was born 6 days before. Now she doesn’t have to competing for spotlight with the Son of God.
As you can see advent is special in our house the birthday boy, Jesus, notwithstanding.
Advent is a time of waiting and joyful anticipation of arrival. It is very much like the Quaker concept of “expectant waiting” that we share together in open worship.
In our waiting, we expect for something to happen.
There is so much build up to the moment of a birth. And, I think, what can be just as important, is the experience and memory of birth and sharing those memories over time.
One of the practices that we do each year with the kids is we have a special birthday dinner where the kids pick what they want to eat. Sometimes we make a meal, sometimes we go out to eat, but in either case, over dinner Emily and I pitch in to tell our celebrant their birth story.
- L’s is focused around the anticipation of our first child. Her birth made us parents and a family is a new way.
- M’s birth involves being born in water.
- C’s involves time, patience, and a sense of calm.
Each birth and birth story is special. Each year the details remain more or less consistent due to Emily’s high functioning memory, no matter how much I try and add exaggerations to the story.
But those stories do adapt and change as they get older and we get to see more of their personalities. What from those early memories do they need to hear and know now?(more…)