Fourth Tuesday of Advent (Year B)
Advent Meditation by Carolyn Ratcliffe
The meditations assigned for today reflect on the birth of a child and how God’s promises to his people will be fulfilled.
The 1st meditation is from Samuel 1:19-28 -which tells the story of how Samuel was conceived after his parents entreated God and how they gave thanks by dedicating their son to serve the Lord.
19 Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name [a]Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”
21 Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.”
23 So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord [b]establish [c]His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weanedn him.
24 Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with [d]three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be [e]lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.
The 2nd meditation is on the Magnificat found in Luke1:46b-55 which is Mary’s acceptance of the Lord’s blessing to be the mother of the Messiah.
And Mary said:
“My soul [a]magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
The 3rd meditation is from Hebrews 8:1-13-which describes the Messiah as sitting on the right hand of God and is promising a better covenant than that given to Moses on the Mount and the failure of the Israelites to follow that covenant. It states that the High Priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices which Christ did by offering up his life to the Lord to save us all and he becomes the Mediator of a better Covenant. The promise is that is ”I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
8 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the [a]sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins [b]and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
In reading these texts and trying to connect the related meanings, it caused me to reflect upon how faith sustained Hannah and Elkanah to conceive and offer their first born to the Lord, for Mary to feel blessed by the Lord to bear the Christ Child who purchased our salvation through sacrificing his life for God’s new covenant, and how faith has sustained me through many difficult times-loss of loved ones, close friends, a series of accidents that have impacted on my life.
It was not a scenario that I had dreamed of in my youth for sure. My focus then was getting an education, getting a job etc, and the future loomed large with a promise of success. I loved riding horses, being out of doors, skiing, art, travel, driving across the country. I worked for NonProfits, Govt. agencies, law firms and became self employed as a result of a number of accidents. In spite of all these “Perils of Pauline” incidents I have continued to thrive while spending a lot of time in PT as well as doing many things that I have enjoyed immensely such as being able to share the love that my family gave me with my nieces and and nephew and their families. The fact that I am still walking albeit not as well as I would like, is amazing. That I was not killed or paralyzed as a result of the accidents is to me proof of God’s love, which has sustained me throughout all of the vagaries of this life and given me the insight to be thankful for the many blessings received.