Notice where you are, how you are, what is going on for you. Give it all to God, then ask for what you seek in this prayer.
Using a mantra can help us become more still in the busyness of our lives. Take a few moments to settle yourself into this time of prayer. Notice where you are, how you are, what is going on for you. Give it all to God, then ask for what you seek in this prayer. It might be to know Jesus more as Lord or Messiah or friend, or just more intimately. Take the Aramaic work Marantha, which means “Come O Lord” and repeat that word as you breathe. Marantha. Repeat this word for a couple of minutes and if you become distracted, simply return to the word.
And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And so on this fourth week of Advent, we arrive at the greatest new beginning of all – the birth of Jesus. It was, of course, a new beginning for the whole of humanity, because God had come to live among us, as one of us. But, strange as it may sound, it was a new beginning for God too. God is eternal. God never had a beginning and will never have an end. But in the birth of Jesus, God was beginning something new – God was starting to live a human life, with all that it entailed – even including death.
And what does this mean for me? What relevance does this event of over two thousand years ago have for my life now? St Paul tells us that when God became human in the person of Jesus, Jesus, as it were “emptied” himself of his divinity, so that he could fully experience his new humanity. He did not cling to his divinity, but became exactly like us. St Luke tells us that he grew – not only physically, but also in wisdom and knowledge. As God, he knew all things; as a human, he had to learn them, bit by bit, just as we do.
This total “letting-go” on the part of Jesus has something to teach me. Do I have a tendency to cling to what is past? Does this prevent me from fully embracing the present moment and all the newness it has to offer? Am I perhaps missing the gifts that God is offering me now, in the present moment, which is the only reality? The past is gone; the future doesn’t yet exist. Only in the present will I find God.
Talk to God
• I imagine Jesus sitting here with me. In his presence, I reflect honestly on what might be preventing me from truly beginning again, right now, in this present moment. I ask him to show me whether I am holding on to something that is unhelpful, that is not life-giving, that is perhaps even toxic.
• Am I afraid to let go of some addiction, because life will seem unbearable without it? I ask Jesus to help me to trust him enough to take the first small step, whatever it is. It might simply be acknowledging to myself and to someone else that I have an addiction and need help. I ask for the gift of hope, which will allow me to see that a new beginning and a new life is possible.
• Or am I holding on to some grudge which is preventing me from fully embracing a new beginning in a relationship that has been damaged? I ask Jesus to help me let go of that comfortable grudge behind which I may be hiding, and for the clarity of vision to see how unhelpful it is.
• Perhaps my life has changed in some way that I find difficult to accept, and I am clinging desperately to a memory of the way things used to be. I talk to Jesus about this, asking for the strength to let go of the past and move into the present, with all its possibilities of new life and greater freedom, if only I can embrace it.
• And now I sit quietly with Jesus and allow him to speak to me and to reassure me that all his gifts are life-giving.