Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Call to Be Attuned to the Rhythms of Emptying and Filling~

As for the very first time, I hear the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she says:   "Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me." (Luke 1:38, The Voice)[1], and I understand at a much deeper level her prophetic declaration in her Magnificat, when she says:
46 My soul lifts up the Lord!
47     My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
48     For though I’m God’s humble servant,
 God has noticed me.
    Now and forever,
        I will be considered blessed by all generations.
49     For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
        holy is God’s name!
50     From generation to generation,
        God’s lovingkindness endures
        for those who revere Him.
51     God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
        The proud in mind and heart,
        God has sent away in disarray.
52     The rulers from their high positions of power,
        God has brought down low.
    And those who were humble and lowly,
        God has elevated with dignity.
53     The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
        The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
(Luke 1:46-53, The Voice; emboldening mine)[2]

Because of a fear of being sent away empty-handed, I have heretofore, read myself into the station of the hungry one(s) mentioned in verse 53a.  Metaphorically, I have oft reasoned, I am hungry for so many things of The Spirit.  But I have not been honest, for fear of being turned away from the God who gives me my very sustenance.  As I have learned to re-read these words through the lens of the concept of kenosis,[3] I have moved from a place of defensiveness to a place of security. Reading Mary's words with kenotic eyes gives me the courage to be honest with myself and with my God.  What have I to fear from Him, for He is my Abba and has my best interest at heart?  To be dismissed with nothing in my hands no longer seems daunting.  Instead, it seems freeing.  After all, empty hands are more capable of receiving and reaching out. Empty hands are also more available for extending, and ...for embracing. 

“Theological hope can only come from a radical experience of our poverty.
As long as we are rich, we rely on our riches.
To learn hope, we have to pass through impoverishment.
These experiences are the prelude to experiencing
the goodness, faithfulness,
and power of God in a quite extraordinary way.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
—those stripped of everything by the Spirit—
“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
~Jacques Phillippe, Interior Freedom


[1] Luke 1:38, ibid.
[2] Luke 1: 46-53, ibid.
[3]Kenosis is a term, although not mentioned specifically in scripture, is alluded to in the abovementioned Philippians passage.  More than humility, kenosis is "The spiritual act of pouring out oneself, of 'emptying' the self of its prerogatives..." and is "derived from the Greek word, kenoo, found in this passage of scripture which refers to Christ, and which means 'emptied himself'...'made himself nothing'..., and...'poured himself out'. from Pilgrim Heart:  The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life by Darryl Tippens.