So I walked into the sanctuary (late from waking up with a head cold) to start rehearsal for our morning worship set, trying to sing around egg sandwiches we had grabbed on the way and cough drops to salvage the little voice I had in those early hours of today. I spent most of yesterday crying over stupidity that can only be described as "my own damn fault" and was still feeling the after-effects of internal emotional wars being fought.
In the middle of rehearsal my husband (who runs the tech stuff at church and was apparently having issues with new software malfunctioning) and I snapped at each other; he was outwardly more angry than I'd seen him in a long time. I thought I was going to throw up and had to walk out of rehearsal this morning.
Without getting into more details than necessary, Hubby and I patched things up with a quick chat and I pulled myself together enough to get through the first service worship set. The day was slowly getting better. I'd decided that I was going to put my personal issues aside and attempt to love and worship God in the way that only HE is worthy of being loved and worshipped. And it kinda-sorta-maybe worked.
Then it was time for the message. Now, as soon as I'm done writing this post, I'll be doing a thorough search of my home to find the hidden camera that our pastor must have planted early this week, because if there isn't one, he must have hacked into my private files on the computer. This morning's message was written for me. (Thanks Tony!) I don't take notes in church usually. There's no point to it for me as I rarely, if ever go back and look at them. This morning -- FIVE pages of notes, reactions, thoughts, and dialogue. FIVE!
Because this message spoke so strongly to me, I want to share some of my journey this morning with you. I highly recommend that you contact our church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and get them to send a copy of the message to you if you weren't there to hear it. Tony opened with a recorded internal "trialogue" between himself, himself, and... "God" that can only be truly experienced by listening to it. Tony had me hooked on every word, from the first sentence.
The first thing that grabbed me was the beauty of the greeting to Mary. "Favored One"... The beauty of the romance... My heart melts to hear it. I've heard this story a million times. I've heard pastors give messages where it's been said that Mary is miraculously "pregnant". Now I don't know what happened; I wasn't there, but let me tell you this: I've been romanced by the Holy Spirit and I'm thinking if the Holy Spirit "came upon Mary", well, I think it's nearly blasphemy to cheapen that encounter by making it any less than what I think it was.
Mary entered willingly into a love affair with the Holy Spirit. She allowed Him to romance her, to call her by a special name, "Favored One". The consequences of her actions were such that her life was unequivocally changed. She gave herself freely and wholly to the work of God. And since I know first hand (and sorry if this is weird for anyone to read, but why can't we talk about such tender and holy moments with the "Lover of our Souls"?) the blissful beauty of an encounter with the Spirit of God, I'm just saying that I don't think God would treat the mother of His ONLY Son any with any less love, respect, and tenderness than a husband should show his wife, particularly given all that He was asking of her.
And what was He asking of her? He was making her into the mother of an illegitimate child. Think about the outrage that we as Christians (sadly) have about teen pregnancy. Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, the beloved chosen ONE of God, was an unwed teen mother. She left her family, likely as an outcast to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also miraculously pregnant.
When Mary arrived, the CHILD IN ELIZABETH'S WOMB LEAPT WITH JOY at the sound of Mary's voice! Now, those of you who know what I'm talking about here, imagine the "afterglow" from an encounter with the Holy Spirit... particularly one resulting in the conception of the child of the MOST HIGH GOD! WOW... This is mind-boggling to me!
I believe that children come from God. What I mean by that in my ultra-romantic idealism is that I believe that all children live with God before they come to earth. This is NOT in scripture that I know of, so you don't have to ask me for scriptural basis. This is my theory and supposition... I believe that EVERY human being comes into this world having an intimate knowledge of the ONE who created them. I used to hold my son when he was an infant (and still do this with my baby girl now) and ask him what the face of God looked like. He used to "tell" me how beautiful it was. Somehow, as we get older and we grow and learn more about the world around us, we forget that we ever knew our Creator and the Lover of our Souls that intimately.
So... back to Mary... She sang a song. "The Magnificat" as it's known through history. Like Mary's story, I've heard it a million times, but never, never, have her words hit me in the way they did today. Because today, Mary's song could have been my song. See Mary felt UNWORTHY of being chased and sought after. She was nothing more than an average teen-aged girl. The God of the universe SOUGHT HER OUT... and found her. He put into her (literally) a purpose so high and so holy, that although it would potentially destroy every ounce of human dignity and respect that Mary had, she gave herself willingly to that plan. And God chose her to be blessed for eternity. WOW!
Not only that... but Mary looks through her own pain and passion, her own issues... to bless the world around her. God loves to turn the tables around, and his beloved, the mother of his child, the "favored one" is no different. Though the world around her may reject her, she turns the tables on those who would potentially seek to harm her. She blesses them all. She shares the love, the adoration that God has poured out on her with the world around her. What a beautiful picture of the type of love God expects from his "favored one". Would that the bride of Christ would follow this example.
Here's the part that spoke to me more than anything else though: Not only was Mary worthy of being chased and sought after by the God of the universe, but Mary found Him worthy of the chase as well. Mary found her child to be worthy of the chase, because He was more than just her son. He was also her Lord and Savior, her Messiah. And Christ turned that around as well, and declared each and every one of us WORTHY OF THE CHASE AS WELL! God loved the world enough, and Mary loved her God and her Lover enough, to believe that this plan -- that would cause Mary such profound pain & personal passion -- would be enough to romance the entire world.
There is so much more that I was given in this morning's encounter with God, but I can't begin to get it all into one post (which is already far longer than it should be; perhaps there will be more coming throughout the week as I continue in this journey of pain and passion to feel worthy of the chase). But I want to tell you all without a single doubt in my mind: My God, the LOVER of my SOUL is worthy of my affections and worthy to have me chase after Him!
And during our second service worship set this morning, I sang the song of love and adoration like I haven't been truly able for a while.
I sing for the blessing I've received. I sing to be redeemed from the pain. I sing to renew the passion. And I sing as I gaze in sheer and utter abandon into the eyes of my Lover! "The gaze of adoration is a gaze that will NOT let you go."