by Tracey Bianchi
Christmas has passed, but many of us are still cleaning up packages, running to stores to return gifts that didn’t quite fit and hosting company who well, let’s face it, still need to eat. Before we crash into another year, let’s take one more moment to reflect on the lessons we can learn from a teenage girl on a cold winter night.
The Christmas Story is dripping with estrogen. There is perhaps no other time of year when we camp out for an entire month on the adventures God placed inside the heart of a woman. And as Christmas gives way to our ordinary time we would be wise to linger a bit and consider two life and leadership lessons we can glean from Mary during Advent.
First, according to the angel who visited her, Mary “was highly favored.” In a moment of awe and splendor, overcome by the sheer exhilaration, terror and mystery of the angel’s visit, Mary was told that she had found great favor with God.
What would your reaction be if an angel stopped by to present God’s call on your life and proclaim God’s favor? Shock and disbelief would be my first thoughts, but if I consider this a bit longer, I find myself overwhelmed by an unsettling fear. A fear that I may not even recognize that angel or understand God’s favor. A fear that if an angel stopped to visit me I’d most likely consider it an imposition on my day, a wrinkle in my smooth schedule; an idea that haunts me as I recall that the book of Hebrews makes it clear we can entertain angels unaware.
My pace of my life is such that I am afraid I’d miss the divine moment.
So how did Mary live that she would have found enough favor with God to carry divinity in her womb? My hunch is that she was not one to crash through life with reckless speed, a Blackberry and enough caffeine to keep her talking from sunrise to sunset. Instead, she lived in such a way that she sensed poignant moments and stopped to take notice.
In Mary we find an invitation to slow down and rest, to fully listen, to engage every moment and to consider what sort of life-pace invites God to visit us. We also see that this woman had partners for the journey. Carolyn Custis James once noted that Joseph lined up behind Mary’s calling. His devotion to her and his desire to take on a social and economic struggle on her behalf was a powerful reminder of our invitation to support one another.
To fully live into God’s callings we must have friends, partners, supporters. Our lives, fully alive in Christ, will bring us to be these support systems for others as well as asking others for this same structure in our lives. Sometimes this means slowing down long enough to recognize when we need help and being wise enough to get over ourselves and ask for it.
As women and leaders we need to pause the multi-tasking, go-it-alone machines that many of us have become in order to tap into the divine, holy moments of our days where God whispers a call in our ear. As we enter this new year let us consider how to live extraordinary lives in our ordinary time.
Tracey Bianchi is a freelance writer, Women’s Pastor and speaker. Her book “Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet” (Zondervan) is available on Amazon.