United Methodist Women

Spiritually Speaking December 2018
By: Brenda Anderson-Baker
Mission Coordinator for Spiritual Growth
For some reason, as I think about Advent this year, I keep coming back to the idea of pregnancy. As the days shorten and grow darker, I find myself turning inward, as I imagine a pregnant woman might. I feel as if I’m trying to nurture something that wants to be born in me. I think of Mary, awaiting the birth of Jesus. She must have been filled with anticipation to welcome this son of hers, this Son of God. But in the natural cycle of pregnancy and birth, she could not rush the process or satisfy her longing until it was time. A few years ago, Steve Garnaas-Holmes described this process: “Advent invites us into the dark, into the silence, into wakefulness. It’s like being pregnant. God is doing miraculous things in us, and in the world, and there’s nothing we can to do make it happen or hasten. Like Mary, we just wait. We enter into the mystery of not being in control, the darkness of trusting what is coming without seeing it, the silence of listening for what is beyond words. We enter into the stillness of paying attention. And we wait upon the Lord.” In the Gospel of Luke, we focus on the miracle of the virgin birth. But there’s another pretty remarkable birth that occurs there too—Elizabeth’s. By the standards of her day, Elizabeth was an old woman, far past child-bearing age. Yet she gives birth to John the Baptist, which shows, I think, that we can be the recipient of—and a participant in—the miracles of God. No matter what our age, no matter what our history has proven, we can birth God’s will into our lives. Whatever it is that we are currently trying to birth into the world—our work, our projects, our causes—it can only be holy if we’re willing to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. If we think we might be spiritually pregnant, how might we nurture this life within us? What do pregnant women do? First, they eat well. So, what things would be good for us to consume, and what things might we need to avoid so that we can nourish our spiritual growth? They exercise, so what stretches us or builds muscle in our spiritual lives? Maybe prayer, worship, and Scripture? Pregnant women rest, so where can we find spiritual rest? Do we need quiet time or contemplative prayer or to observe Sabbath time? Maybe they seek the wisdom and support of other women. Mary sought out Elizabeth soon after she learned she was pregnant. Who are our teachers and companions in our faith lives? My prayer for all of us as we approach this Advent season is that we may listen to the stirrings in our soul and nurture that growth within us as we await the birth of the Child who longs to be born in each one of us.