Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. ~ Lk 1:68
My youth choir director, the redoubtable Mrs. Davis, ran a tight ship—I recall more than one instance when she tossed a mischievous boy out of rehearsal!—but she was also one of the formative religious instructors of my childhood. As we rehearsed hymns and anthems every Tuesday afternoon, she would pause to offer her wisdom. She often held forth on the difference between license and freedom, warning us that doing whatever we wanted (which seemed pretty appealing to a ten-year-old) would ultimately make us unhappy, and that life as a Christian entailed certain commitments and obligations that would bring us true freedom.
As Advent hurtles towards a close—despite our best efforts to harness time!—it is my hope that our readings have illuminated the freedom we find in the commitment to prayer. The first step in prayer is to find that Sabbath moment—to stop time, be still, and sense the presence of God. From there, our conversation with the Lord proceeds: we confess our shortcomings, give thanks for our blessings, offer up our petitions, and finally, perhaps most importantly, listen for his voice.
This takes effort, and discipline; it is, some days, even a burden. But as Christ assures us, his burden is light, and his yoke is easy. By setting aside time to “check in” daily with the God who calls us by name, who watches over us, who loves us, we will gradually come to understand the part He has sent us to play in the history of salvation, a history whose trajectory was changed irrevocably with the birth of Christ, the joyful event that we celebrate tomorrow. A happy Christmas to one and all!
Loving Lord, who has raised up for us a mighty Savior, Show me the freedom of life in you as I celebrate the birth of Christ. Amen.