Your soul's worth

Every year I receive Advent reflections in my inbox. I sign up for them because I have this hope each year to enter more deeply into Advent waiting and reflecting and often the words of other journeyers help me. This morning Nadia Bolz-Weber's words sunk in because she was reflecting on the Christmas carol, O Holy Night, her (and my) favorite.

Considering these lines, "long lay the world, in sin and error pining. Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth," Bolz-Weber reflects that though the world's error and sin seem monumental and without end, this is not a reason to despair. Instead, it is a cause to come to terms with the truth that what the world needs is help. We need help. I need help. Yet the help I'm most in need of is not the gumption or grit to work harder, behave better, or do more good for God. I need help acknowledging and believing that I need help. I need humility. I need lowliness. And here Mary, Jesus' mother, says Bolz-Weber, can be our teacher.

She writes, "I think that this is exactly what Mary, mother of our Lord, understood: that what qualifies us for God’s grace (the “help” I need) isn’t our goodness – what qualifies us for God’s grace is nothing more than our need for God’s grace. When Mary sings of God in the Magnificat, she didn’t say that God looked with favor on her virtue. She didn’t say that God looked with favor upon her activism. She didn’t say that God looked with favor on the fact that she had tried so hard that she finally had become the ideal version of herself. No. God looked with favor on her lowliness."

"And yet then what do I do but constantly curse my own lowliness. Obsess about my flaws and shortcomings. Berate myself for my failings and defects of character; for not trying hard enough to become my ideal self. But our failings and weakness and mistakes are God’s perfect entry points. It is our lowliness and our humility, not our strength and our so-called virtues where God does God’s very best work."

So fall on your knees, she says, "Fall on your knees before a God who Mary bore into this world as delicate unprotected, unarmed, defenseless, lowly flesh. Fall on your knees before the one who loves without caution, without measure, without concern for pre-existing conditions. Fall on your knees before a God in whose grace you can relax and try less hard and know that your flawed, imperfect, lumpy self is so totally loved and worthy to be loved."

Friends, may your Advent hold room for the singing of O Holy Night, and may your soul feel its worth.

Peace to you,