Unlike many other Advent seasons, I truly feel God doing a new work within my heart. This past year has been one of many, many...many life-changes. Naively, I thought that none of it would be a big deal. After all, "I can do all things through Christ." While this is true, getting married, leaving a job, looking for a job, getting a job, leaving your HOME (and many friends and family), joining the church, looking for friends and entering the desert (in so many more ways than one) all take a toll.
At our parish, on Monday nights there is a women's faith sharing group. I have only been able to make it twice. The first Monday of Advent, I went. Our book selection was The Reed of God, by Caryll Houselander. The book focused on Mary's "yes" to believe God, receive the miracle of Emmanuel, and bless the world by birthing Him. Houselander likened Mary to 'the Reed' (as in a musical instrument - like the clarinet) God used to bring the music of Christ.
The premise of the first few chapters (which were all I read, as I only went one time) were that we, too, are vessels (reeds) like Mary. For vessels to hold anything, they must be hollowed out. During Advent, we must be emptied of the sins that have taken root/entangled us, so that we can receive the grace of Christ. In turn, then, that grace may flow out of our vessel into the lives of others.
Houselander used three examples of vessels (although I can only remember two): the reed and the chalice. Both are hollowed, so that they can fulfill their purpose. The reed and chalice have two very different purposes, but both are filled to bless another. The take-away thought was two-fold: a) our hollowing out/emptying serves a purpose - so that we may receive something greater - and carry that into the world; 2) the shape of the vessel is designed for its purpose. What 'hollowing' out are you experiencing? How may God want to fill that for blessing?
I was reminded of the what Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy 2:20-21:
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
The message states the end of verse 21 poetically:
Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.Advent is a time to make ready, to prepare to receive a gift. How is God asking you to get ready? What stumbling block is He nudging you to remove? His nudging is so that we may be ready to receive His gift so that we can bless this world.
Let us make ready. Come, Lord Jesus, come.