Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In the fullness of time, though fragile in years and status I understood the angel’s invitation and agreed to birth You among us…
The devotional from which the excerpt, above, is drawn, linked here and reprinted in part just below, highlights an aspect of both the Christmas story and the Body of Christ that often remains in the shadows of the manger.
It highlights not only Mary, Jesus’ mother, of whom it was prophesied after the Fall of man from grace,
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15, NIV),
…but also emphasizes how God calls, gifts, and works through all believers. As put in Paul’s letter to the Galatians,
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (3:28, NIV)
But perhaps most importantly, the devotional emphasizes how when Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct His church, also known as His Body comprised of believers on earth, He included all–even very young, culturally-confined, tradition-bound women such as Mary, who, like all believers, presented a willing mind and spirit when came God’s call on her life through the angel Gabriel.
I emphasize Mary’s discernment, her obedience, and her calling today to highlight the preeminance of the spirit of Christ’s Body over the flesh, or, as Jesus put it,
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)
For neither is God bound to cultures and traditions, but reveals Himself to all who, like Mary, have eyes to see and ears to hear Him, whether alone or in a crowd, esteemed or humble, male or female…
Be encouraged in your own calling today.
Here, as if from the “voice” of “everywoman” who believes, is the devotional:
SPIRIT OF HIS SPIRIT: A
WOMAN’S BELIEVER’S PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
As the dust of creation settled, You crafted flesh from flesh and bone from bone making that which was part, whole.
In the cool of the day You walked with us, unwrapping color, light , scent; the intricacies of Your designs; the delicacies of Your hand. In the cool of the day you gifted us with Your presence while there was yet time…
But even after we misused that other gift—that severe necessity of love, free will—and for the first time found ourselves naked in our sin You did not abandon us. You covered us and equipped us with warnings even as You posted guard at the gate and we—paradise behind, consequence ahead—stepped onto the rocky landscape of redemptive history.
We knew our guilt and knew, for the first time, separateness as sin began its destruction.
To the man You prophesied toil with anguish; to me, my desire, though fraught with the danger of childbirth, would be for him. And You prophesied the quest for rulership tainted, now, with evil…
But You also gave a promise: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” You told the destroyer, “and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” In the wee, dark hours of redemption You seeded hope…
Though curse-bound I pondered that seed as I walked with You in the cool of my heart, in the solitude of reverie, in freedom of spirit. And You heard and answered me.
Trusting You, I bore my children in pain, but judged all of Israel from beneath a tree.
Listening to You, I served—and saved—a man named “fool (Nabal);” served—and saved—a man named David.
Confident in You, I approached another king risking all to save my people—to save Your people.
In the fullness of time, though fragile in years and status I understood the angel’s invitation and agreed to birth You among us.
I entered restricted company and shattered my jar of precious ointment to anoint Your feet, You, Who knew me, yet still loved me.
Bound in the rags of my sin and shame I sat at the edge of a well and listened as You told me my life, without condemnation, and promised the water that would quench the insatiable thirst.
I watched, trembling, in the sand, as you rescued me from my accusers, their fists clenching the law.
I was the last one to handle Your torn body for burial that awful day, a mix of Your blood and my tears staining my hands and heart.
Three days later, I was the first one to hear You speak the name of one who loved You. That day You split time. That day You bruised forever the head of the snake. The day You had promised. That day You were the Promise.
I cowered, too, in that upper room, afraid of the overwhelming evil that was able to seemingly overcome the Son of God, although You had prophesied that. And I was there when the Holy Spirit, another promise, came as a rushing wind empowering us with might and glory and joy and gifting each of us severally as He willed so that we could be witnesses to the ends of place and time.
And I sit freely at Your feet now, listening, watching, waiting, the taste of redemption still in my mouth.
I join multitudes who because of Your sacrifice can now come near to learn of You without hesitation, who can experience the fullness of Your power without intermediary.
Because of Your sacrifice, I enjoy oneness again, the unity—in You—of all believers male, female; Jew, Greek; slave, free.
For You have enabled me to step through the torn curtain, to come forward from the recesses of the synagogues, the backs of the churches, the corners of shame; You have delivered me (and all those who so will) from the chains of the curses, invited me into the throne room of Your presence where, in You, I take my seat in the heavenlies.
Though here the glass be dark, because of You I come boldly front and center and press my face close with Your blood-bought permission so that I might know all that You have for me and for all “who will” because of “the anointing which (I) have received of (You, that) abideth in (me), and (I) need not that any man teach (me): but as the same anointing teacheth (me) of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught (me), (I) shall abide in (You).”
And none come between.
At Your altar I raise my head and hands and heart to the anointing that breaks the yoke and give You unending praise in a song of grace triumphant
Thank You, Lord, for freeing me from the law of sin and death, for regarding me neither more nor less than any other, and for never leaving nor forsaking me.
Spirit of Your Spirit, I yearn for You alone, my solo desire, and I lift up You Who uplifted me then and Who uplifts me now and forever.
To You alone be the glory.
I am free, indeed.
–Phyllis Beveridge Nissila, 7/7/12
Image of Nativity scene from Wikimedia Commons