Shaped into a Vessel: 2012

In the first chapter of Luke, Gabriel visits a young Jewish girl named Mary. Mary is engaged to be married and surely knew what awaited her if she turned up pregnant before becoming Joseph’s wife. She was not naive in her acceptance of God’s will for her. She even argues with the angel a bit, expressing her disbelief that she could possibly conceive a child without involving a man. In the end, Mary says the now famous words, “Let it be” (KJV).

I always think about Mary during Advent. Each year, something new strikes me. In 2003, I was struck by the idea that she could not have possibly known what lay in store for her son. One year, I spent time thinking of real childbirth and how bringing Jesus into this world was a painful experience for His mother. This year, I keep hearing her words, “Let it be.”

Months ago, I felt God nudging me toward my theme for 2012. Sometimes a theme is dropped in my lap and I cannot argue with it. Other times, like this year, the theme begins as a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel and I watch, entranced, as it is formed into a word or phrase that I can cling to in the year to come.

The lump of clay was the word “gentleness.” That’s a fruit of the Spirit I struggle to bear, much as Mary must have struggled to bear Jesus. As the wheel spun, the word became a conviction. I do not have a gentle mouth. I am sharp-tongued and sarcastic. I tend to cling to these characteristics as evidence of superior intellect and the mind of a writer, but they are not helpful when it comes to parenting. I tend to see my children as extensions of myself, so I speak to them as I speak to myself. Instead, I need to speak to them in the same compassionate tone I use with my friends.

As this conviction turned within me, I tried to mold it into a theme, but it didn’t work. Nothing felt right. I took my hands out of the clay and let God get back to making art. In other words, I waited. The theme would come and it would fit.

Thinking on Mary again, during a Sunday sermon, my theme came off the wheel, shaped into a vessel fit to carry God’s only son…

Mary.

2012 is the year of Mary, the year of “Let it Be.”

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