Wed Scripture - Luke 1:34 - How will this be
Wed Quote - Enuma Okoro - “Openness to God demands our growing acceptance that we cannot create blueprints for our own lives. Though God’s character is unchanging, the ways of God are unpredictable, and there is a difference between arbitrariness and unpredictability.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, reflecting on the season of Advent, “The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty.' I must admit that I've spent most of my life avoiding and dismissing 'mystery.' It has always sounded like the answer people give to difficult questions, most especially in the realm of faith. Most especially my negative attitude has come from those faith leaders who discourage questions with, 'don't ask questions, just accept that it's a mystery.' After all, Anselm once spoke of theology as 'fides quaerens intellectum' or 'faith seeking understanding.' I bristle at the use of mystery to shut down seeking, learning and understanding.
But this doesn't seem to be what Bonhoeffer is talking about, nor does it seem to be what we are watching as Mary says, 'how can this be?' Bonhoeffer, in lamenting the loss of mystery and I suppose urging disciples to attempt to regain a desire for its experience, isn't trying to shut down our imagination, but instead to open it up. His further comments seem to lament the fact that we tend to live our lives according to what we can be certain of, what we can measure and plan. And while being realistic has its place, limiting ourselves to what we comprehend, can understand, can plan for and measure, leaves life flat. And worse, it leaves the human heart without hope for healing, justice or peace. Mystery is that awakening to the something more, the possible impossibility that is the kingdom of God. Or as Jurgen Moltmann has said, 'the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present.” Mystery is that which awakens us to the all too often readily accepted present and all of its broken promises, disappointments, and injustice. Mystery is that which dares us to hope and dream for more.
This is exactly what we are watching happen with Mary once the impossible is announced to her by the angel. That God will come to earth, be born as a human. Not just any human but economically exploited and politically oppressed. Born to common people without power or influence. This is where and how God will appear and peace and justice be born. It is unexpected, unlikely and impossible. How can this happen? It is beyond imagining. It is a mystery. And we see that a mystery is that moment when the unexpected and impossible is promised; when there is justice or peace, when we are empowered to forgive or to give generously, when a stranger is welcomed or a risky venture toward any of these signs of the kingdom undertaken against our better judgement, that is a mystery. That is what Bonhoeffer hopes that we will learn again to embrace. That is how Mary finds hope and courage to say 'Yes' to God's impossible proposal and all of its consequences. She is drawn into the hope of a mystery.
Wed Explore - Genesis 18:1-15; Mark 6:30-42
Wed Prayer - Rescue us God, from the fear and discouragement that keeps us from dreaming and dreams and nurturing visions. Forgive us for giving our attention to obstacles and not the goal you present us with. Forgive us for thinking ourselves too small, too insignificant, to carry out the plans you have for us. Heal us from the malady in which we judge the work of your kingdom to be too hard, too dangerous, just plain impossible and bring us to a place of a healthy embrace of the impossible that you cause to be, that we might always live and work with hope.