This past Sunday we continued our exploration of the integrated life. During the month of May we're looking at how openness and receptivity are crucial to developing an integrated life. This week, in honor of Mother's Day, Sean talked about how Mary (Jesus' mother) modeled openness and receptivity for us. Throughout her life, Mary, like all of us, was confronted with both positive and negative circumstances. From her first encounter with the angel who informed her that she will be with child, to watching her son be crucified, she was open and receptive to God. It may have taken her a moment, but she came around to accepting God's will for her life. At first, when the angel told her the news she was to be "with child", her response was like "whoa, not sure about this, how can that be?" But shortly thereafter her response changed to, "I am God's. His will be done." I wonder what changed for Mary in those few moments of time? How did she move from being closed and non-receptive to open and receptive to God's will?
Though we don't know for sure, a couple glimpses of Mary's heart may help us fill in the story. After her visit from the angel, she hurried to see her relative Elizabeth. Somehow Elizabeth knows that Mary is to be the mother of the Christ and greets Mary as such. Mary's response, often called Mary's song (Luke 1:46-56), gives us a beautiful picture into Mary's heart that allowed her to move from being closed to open in a few moments of time. Her response is filled with humility, joy, acceptance and an unwavering belief in the love and goodness of God. She proclaims "He is my God and savior, He is merciful, good, and just" I believe She accepts God's will for her because she knows God to be all these things, not only for her people but also for her personally. There is this sense of intimacy with God in her response. She acknowledges Him as Creator and Sustainer God. Yet unabashedly she proclaims that she has been lovingly seen and known by Him.
This intimacy with a loving, good, merciful, saving God, I believe, allows her to move from closed to open, from no to yes in a moment's time. It models for us a way and relationship with God that helps us also move from being closed to open, from no to yes. God invites us to intimacy with Him, where all is included and where we are known and seen and loved by Him. He invites us into an intimate relationship that embraces the whole of our lives- the painful, messy, and scary parts (becoming an unwed, virgin mother), as well as the bright, and beautiful parts (bearing God's son). When we take steps, no matter how small, in the direction of intimacy with a loving, good, merciful God openness and receptivity start to bloom. Over time and with God's help, we too, being grounded in His love, mercy, and kindness, will be able to be open where we were once closed and say "yes" where we used to say "no".
Consider this week:
How can I take a step towards intimacy with God?