Mary’s Magnificat, the song sung on the meeting of two expectant mothers, Elizabeth pregnant with John and Mary with Jesus – stands as one of the most powerfully prophetic utterances recorded in Christian sacred text. Mary is this Sunday’s Advent messenger, bringing us to the threshold of the event that meets all the yearning expressed in the set texts. The anticipation and sober reflection of the first three readings are eclipsed by the triumphant and exuberant outburst experienced and expressed on the occasion of this encounter of two cousins. Click on the links and follow through reflectively:
Diarmuid O’Murchu invites me to pause and give attention to my feelings and responses to his orientation on what The Spirit of God may be inviting us to this Advent. I’m happy to do just that! I respond to his dot points in italics.
- Opting for holistic rather than reductionist analysis. I’ve always been a big picture man. Every detail has a wider context to which it both gives and receives. The detail is incomplete without the whole of which it is a part.
- Suspicion of reason when used to the exclusion of intuition, imagination, emotion, feeling and spontaneous insight. I have always been located in the intelligence centre that is focused on rationality, discovering later in life the value of instinct, intuition and emotion as emanating from intelligence centres in there own right and deserving holistic integration into our “reasoning” processes.
- Dualisms are human constructs that have outlived their usefulness. I no longer see matters as a contrast between black and white, or even shades of gray. Life is wonderfully and complicatedly technicolor.
- Belief in the evolutionary nature of life at every level with three basic and universal movements of growth, change, and development. My instinctive “amen” is underlined by my acute awareness of these movements within my own interior being and my life-time observation of systems within nature, human history and organisation. It counters the “deus ex machina” idea that once dominated my thinking, even if unconsciously. The Spirit is actively, intimately and progressively involved in all aspects of the cosmos.
- There are no absolutes in an evolutionary universe – all is unfolding, emerging, becoming. I want to put a caveat on this one. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but I feel there are absolutes (eg Love) of which our perceptions are unfolding, emerging, becoming.
- Dominance of patriarchy beginning to fragment in meaning and effectiveness. It is dying a slow death – it will not lie down. From where I sit, it will take another generation to become noticeably weaker.
- Parameters set by past 5000 years of civilisation have been shortsighted, reductionistic, and irresponsible in their constructs of reality. Surely part of evolutionary processes. There have always been countermovements within civilisations, alternatively prized, tolerated and suppressed. Granted, there is still a long way to go before minority wisdom can be seen as a valuable offset to majority slumber.
- Expansive awareness of vast ages of the universe needs to become the normative basis on which we engage with daily life. I wonder if this requires either further evolution of our collective human capacity or combined human will to appoint leaders whose vision can be lifted higher than the next election.
- Belief that human wisdom is older than our cultural normative standards. Role of information explosion in the reclamation of knowledge from those who have used it for patriarchal power. The rise of the people in lateral rather than linear thinking. I would like to and need to explore this notion further.
- Belief that spirituality predates formal religions by several thousand years. A given – Australian Aboriginal spirituality a case in point.
- Being a life-long learner reframing wisdom and insight as new circumstances demand. Dogma in science and religion are major distractions and confusing obstacles in an evolving universe. As a questioner who regards the Apostle Thomas as my patron saint, I tend to agree. I refuse to use the sobriquet Doubting Thomas, however. His open and skeptical stance led him to be a powerfully effective Believing Thomas, spreading the way of Christ all the way to India. Separating dogma and progressive enquiry is a central task in this quest.
So there we have it – a few steps further towards a fresh encounter with the Christ incarnation that is preparing to be rebirthed in our midst.
I am sitting in the many layered histories of Kings Park – acutely aware of millennia of cyclical indigenous story, colonial appropriation with a desire to preserve a 200 year old outlook, and contemporary efforts to conserve an enormous biodiversity of flora unique to this region. I have just read the opening chapters of Diarmuid O’Murchu’s “In the Beginning was the Spirit: Science, Religion and Indigenous Spirituality.” I have been drawn to O’Murchu’s writings before – perhaps I identify with his self-description as a “non-academic intellectual.” I suspect that for me this week he is my Advent messenger, my “John the son of Zechariah,” a post modern prophet challenging me to see again how the incarnation of Christ is born into a world of crumbling institutions (including formal religion) and lending my years to the vanguard of a renewed form of spiritual engagement. As Advent 3 approaches I look foward to contemplating his input further.
Peace does not come peacefully. Advent is full of heralds who shout loudly to waken us and point us to a cacophony of events that are reshaping the order of human affairs. Fasten your seat-belts and don your crash helmets as we enter the readings for December 9!
Today is the day of messengers. We are not sure we want to hear what they have to say – their words confront us where we would rather leave our heads in the sand. Their task is to awaken us and prepare us for cosmic changes. Change is always painful, but, in this season, the result is positive for all.
This Psalm celebrates the anticipated outcome as if it has already occurred. In fact, so certain is the confidence of the worshipper that the promise is already fulfilled even in the waiting!
From prison Paul rejoices and gives thanks for the community of Christ that is visible in the reign of love among those to whom he is writing. This is the ultimate outcome of all the utterances of the Advent messengers that have led to communities under Paul’s ministry embracing the Christ who has come into their midst.
John the Baptist is the quintessential Advent messenger – the herald to which all the seers and sages of old pointed. His appearance is sudden, fierce and daunting. We awaken and take notice, however, for he comes preparing the way for momentous change – all for the good! Peace does not come peacefully!