Recently, I was afforded the invitation to offer my advent message and Last Word as Toronto Conference President. The query seemed risky at best, and posed for me the task… what words would I leave behind as my final say. Advent invites us to that time of wonder, and winter to that time of inward reflection, and the transition of Conference into Regions that time to wonder about what will happen now?
One of my favourite Christmas songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” It always lifts me to a moment of transcendence. However I laughed out loud recently when I saw this tweet quoting Holly Scheer.; addressing the rhetorical-question title of the song noting, “the biblical account of Christ’s conception and birth shouldn’t need to ask if Mary knew, because the Bible plainly tells us she did.” Scheer, Holly (21 December 2016). “Why ‘Mary Did You Know’ Is The Most Biblically Illiterate Christmas Tune”. The Federalist. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
It is the sense of knowing… that I want to address. Advent is a time that invites us to wait and ponder upon that which we cannot know, but have been promised. What a wonderful image to carry us from this place, as we seek to step into a new place in time, as it unfolds and unwinds.
What do we know? We know that God is with us. We know we are invited, as was Mary, to show up, and to take our place in the story of birthing the way of Christ into this world, every day. We know that we are a bit intimidated by the unknown, the uncertainty, the ‘what ifs ‘of decisions, mistakes and frankly, the unknown.
Mary knew, but she couldn’t have possibly known the heartache and pain, the fear, the loss, the tears that would be shed. She chose anyway. She took what she knew – that God said ‘I will be with you’, and she stepped into the future. That is all that we are asked to do.
So what final word do I offer to you?
The next time you are faced with a choice… to open yourself up or retreat into fear.. To arch towards the light, or hide in your own darkness.. which will you choose? And who will do your choosing? I hope it is your very bravest part. (from “You’re Not Stuck” – Facebook March 2018)
Rev. Audrey Brown
President Toronto Conference