Welcome to #ccdaAdvent.
In the midst of darkness, oppression, and marginalization, Christ entered the scene of the first Advent and paved the way for our communal wellbeing. This Advent season, we invite you to consider what wellbeing meant for the community of first Advent. What lessons may we draw from their context? Join the CCDA community over the next 4 weeks as we identify and learn what holistic wellbeing looks like from an exposition of Isaiah 40:29-31.
Each devotional will include a reflection, breath prayer, art, and worship. We pray that the reflections and prayers within these Advent devotionals bring renewed inspiration, anticipation, and hope in the Kingdom of God that has come and is to come. Amen
Devotional written by: Mary Beth Meadows, CCDA Staff
“[God] gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:29-31
As I contemplate the intersection of Wellbeing and Advent, I am brought to a memory. I was listening to Sandra María Van Opstal teach in Chicago at Immersion 2018 when she said, “If you truly want to see what is happening in a society, follow the women.” Ever since I heard this, follow the women has galvanized my thoughts, analyses and perceptions. It has become an investigative and hermeneutical tool. One can learn the wellbeing of a community, people, culture, nation, by following the women. As we enter into Advent season, I compel you to use this tool, beyond curiosity, and read Scripture through the experience of a marginalized, expectant BIPOC youth.
Within Isaiah 40:29 we read, “[God] gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” If we stay true to following the women and listen to Mary, this verse is prophetically woven through her voice and song. Mary’s proclamation creates an awareness that had not been seen before: God sees, values, and centers women, disenfranchised and marginalized people, the poor. Her song (in Luke 1:46-55) is not only one of resistance and radical love, holding tightly to the prophetic collaboration being brought to life within her, but the announcement of a new Kingdom and Hope to come. God proclaims power and strength through her.
“With the Magnificat, Mary declares that God has indeed chosen sides. And it’s not with the powerful, but the humble. It’s not with the rich, but with the poor. It’s not with the occupying force, but with people on the margins. It’s not with narcissistic kings, but with an un-wed, un-believed teenage girl entrusted with the holy task of birthing, nursing, and nurturing God. This is the stunning claim of the incarnation [she writes]: God [chooses to make] a home among the very people the world casts aside. And in her defiant prayer, Mary—a dark-skinned woman, a refugee, a religious minority in an occupied land—names this reality.” (Rachel Held Evans, “Mary, the Magnificat, and an Unsentimental Advent”)
Throughout the Old Testament, Creator wove a strong, beautiful textile of faithful revolutionary women leading to Mary. I imagine through her teenage angst and hope, she tearfully and righteously proclaimed THIS IS FOR US!!! Mary was a threat, a fighter, a revolutionary, a mother, a partner, who conspired with God to usher in a new Kingdom. (I imagine she even taught Jesus to flip tables.)
The hope of Jesus this first Advent season is contained within this mighty teen. From Mary’s story and song, we can learn much about the hope of Jesus for our and our community’s wellbeing this Advent. If we follow the women, what parallels do we see between today and the first season of Advent? Where is Creator empowering women to give power to the faint and strength to the powerless? In what grievous spaces are we as a nation and world experiencing that we need to practice this radical love, hope, and God’s dream for community? How can I, you, us together live out this new Kingdom?
How do we get started on our path to wellbeing? Dive deeper with our workshop here: Soul Strength for Justice Work