Friday, December 9, 2016

Meditation for Advent Week 3

{For the third Sunday of Advent the church I attend is using the Week 4 scriptures on December 11th, so this week's meditation is based on those scriptures and the general themes of Advent. It is easily adaptable to any Advent service.}

The scriptural passages for today contain the prophecy of Jesus' birth and Matthew's account of the circumstances leading up to it. Isaiah 7:14 proclaims, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel." Immanuel means, God with us. God incarnate. The Divine on Earth in Human form! What a magical, mystical, fantastical idea: a living, breathing deity, the embodiment of holiness and divinity!

Some interpretations of Christian spirituality cast shame on the human body, viewing it as an impediment to spiritual progress. This ancient view of our bodies is also present in the other faith traditions of the world. This type of thinking is linked to a certain time in history, and the philosophies which dominated at that time. But our scriptures for today tell us that God chose to come into our physical world through the womb of a woman's body, taking birth as a human. Matthew chapter 1:18-25 tells the story of Mary's pregnancy and Joseph's struggle to preserve the couple's dignity as he contemplated hiding Mary away. In a dream an angel reassured Joseph, telling him about the great blessing awaiting the world, and that they should call their new baby by the name of Jesus. And so, Joseph and Mary went ahead with their wedding plans and believed themselves that Mary's body was holy, that their marriage was holy, that their baby was holy; and they put away their shame and fear.

What more evidence do we need that we ourselves, in our very bodies are holy and beloved, than the Lord of all coming to us in a body just like ours?

Find a comfortable seat where you can be at ease in your body. Bring the hands together in prayer at the heart. Gently close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breath. Allow your breath to slow down and deepen, naturally soothing your body and mind. In this reverent, peaceful position, allow your focus to turn to the Holy One, Immanuel. 

Begin silently repeating the prayer phrase, "Immanuel, God with Us" to yourself. Silently repeat Immanuel as you inhale, and God with Us as you exhale. Without judgment, let all other thoughts come and go as you bring your awareness consistently to your prayer phrase and your breath. 

With each breath, welcome in the presence of the Lord. With each heartbeat, experience your connection to the heart of Christ. 

Feel the inner Light of Christ expand through your heart, through your chest, throughout your entire being. 

Envision the Light of Christ surrounding you here and now, encircling your body and radiating from your core. 

Immanuel, God with Us. As a church, we are the Body of Christ on our Earth here, today. 

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