For our worship team devotions today, Lynette set up a tableau with small figures of the holy family -- Mary, Joseph and Jesus -- surrounded by a rough crown of thorns. As we gathered our thoughts, lighting candles and contemplating the figures, I was struck by how we often focus on the full-ness of Christmas, the full-fillment of ancient prophecies. This time, my thoughts went to emptyness... how Mary had the faith and sense of adventure to empty herself even of control over her own body to be part of the new thing God was doing... how Joseph had the patience and trust to empty himself of his expectations of his wife-to-be and child and of the customs of his society to not get in the way of God's work... how the Son of God emptied himself of everything in order to take on our weak and limiting flesh. As Luther put it in the reading Lynette shared as part of the devotion, Christ became empty enough to step confidently into the form of an infant, and allow us to come near to him.
Emptyness. We're trained to think of it as a lower state, a problem to be fixed. Yet at this crucial point in the salvation story, it was the emptying of an ordinary young woman and her ordinary husband that allowed the fullness of God to dwell among us.
So, too, for me, emptying myself of pride, knowledge and answers is almost always necessary to discern and receive what God prepares for me. And how difficult that is! In a culture of self-sufficiency and rugged individualism, I am trained to be full of myself, confident in my abilities, sure of my direction (even when I am not!). Thanks be to God that Mary and Joseph stand as examples of the amazing blessings that can occur when we empty ourselves so God can fill us.