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Fourth Week of Advent, December 21, 2014

Jennifer Hollis, CND Associate

(painting of the Visitation by Sr. Andrée Maheu, CND)

As I enter into a reflection on the Gospel this 4th Sunday (Luke 1:26-38; The Annunciation Story), I am struck by the walk we have all taken together on this Advent e-journey.   I love all of your juxtapositions of the perfect pottery, polished silver, perfectly knitted sweaters and delicately blown glass with the “cracked pots”, “tarnished silver”, “Holy, holey sweaters” and “molten” balls of glass with “minds of their own”.    I love Sr. Joan’s consideration of an “inner-active” Advent combined with Gwen’s thoughts on actively and outwardly participating as “co-creators” in bringing about Christmas. 

These juxtapositions are so beautifully alive in the Annunciation story.     Mary was invited by God to bring Christ into the world, but was not a passive participant in the story.   Mary’s strength and active role shines through as she ponders, questions and ultimately reaches her own decision in response to the invitation.

Ultimately, the story of the Annunciation is an active story of discernment.    Each of us, from one day to another, lives the story of the Annunciation and is invited in different ways by God to play the roles of the Angel Gabriel and Mary.  As Mary learns of her cousin’s pregnancy, we are also invited to “enter the story” as Elizabeth (Fran Ferder).  Sometimes we are the Angel Gabriel.  Sometimes we are Mary.  Sometimes we are Elizabeth.

At times in our lives, we may be “greatly troubled” or “filled with fear” in delivering a message, receiving a message and celebrating the message.     We become the rugged rocks along the Quonnie shores.    But the realization that we are all – perfectly imperfect -- gets us to move through the story.   As Sharon quoted the Leonard Cohen Anthem, “There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”  It is the lived experience and walk together through the good times and the bad that ultimately gets us to move past the fear and collectively celebrate the “Yes” which is Christmas.   We all just need to trust in ourselves and others that we can, indeed, get to the “Yes”.

So, who are the Messengers that have helped you say “Yes” this year?    Who have you helped to say “Yes”?   Who have you said “Yes” to?   And who, like Mary’s discovery that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant, have you learned are there to celebrate the “Yes” in community with you this year?  

Personally, my life this past year has been filled with the most profound juxtapositions that I have ever experienced of sadness and joy.    The year started with a sudden and deep loss that sent ripples of grief through myself and many I know and love, combined with the premature birth of a child in my family.    Yet, in spite of this loss and fear of what the move forward may bring, many people in my life have led me to profound joy, calm and celebration of the “Yes” throughout the year.   Christmas is a time to celebrate the positive.   As I prepare for Christmas, I celebrate this year’s many moments of “Yes” including the fact that the newborn baby is doing incredibly well.  My family celebrated a marriage this year.   My spouse and I celebrated our one-year anniversary of marriage.  My spouse passed her licensing exam for a new profession.   My place of employment found a way to celebrate the launch of a new beginning.   I became an Associate and I also celebrated the Jubilee of Sr. Joan, who was part of my first introduction to the CND seventeen years ago.

Ultimately, every Annunciation story that ends in a “Yes” is also the launch of a Visitation Story.    It is through Visitation that we help each other to celebrate Christ’s birth.   Very soon, Mary will be actively going on a journey to visit Elizabeth.   But Visitation is not just a story about Mary and Elizabeth.  Visitation is the story of all the people in our lives that get us to the “Yes.”   It is the story of saying “Yes” to change when we are most afraid and doubtful.   By getting to the “Yes”, we are able to embrace the joy of Christmas, help others get to the “Yes” within themselves and celebrate the “Yes” with one another.

May you all have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas.    The CND Community of Sisters, Associates and Friends is a beautiful Christmas gift on our journeys to the “Yes.”    Each journey goes forward at its own pace.  But, with God’s grace fueled by the Holy Spirit, the journey to the “Yes” is always possible.   Let us all pray for one another on the journey, as we wait in joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth.

Love and peace,


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