This is the fourth installment in Advent All Around, a Think Christian series that sees reflections of Advent in the culture at large.
When Beyonce’s self-titled album was released last week, it caught all of the world by surprise. There was no countdown to the big release; it was a welcomed and unexpected gift to her fans. I found myself sleepily downloading the album at the early hours of the morning before heading to bed. While there is a lot I want to say about Beyonce, for the moment I want to focus on the song “Blue” and Luke 1.
“Blue” is a song about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy. Both the song and the music video beautifully capture the blessing of love. Beyonce sings, “Sometimes these walls seem to cave in on me. When I look in your eyes, I feel alive. Some days we say words that don’t mean a thing. But when you holding me tight, I feel alive.”
I wonder if Mary could identify with this song as she held Jesus in her arms and nursed Him to life? On the days it was difficult for Mary, I wonder if she would swoop Jesus up in her arms and look Him in His eyes and feel alive? Mary, the mother of our savior, loved Jesus because He was her son.
The first time someone is called “blessed” in the book of Luke is in the first chapter. The pregnant Mary visits her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed are you among women.”
Can you see in your imagination the wondrous love exchanged between Jesus and His mother?
This is something I think we quickly overlook. Receiving a blessing is receiving love. Giving a blessing is giving love. Love is the animating force of how we connect to each other. In blessing one another we love who the other person is for who they are and not for the image we project onto them. Love is blessing someone and honoring who they are. Or, as Beyonce reminds us, looking into the eyes of someone gives us the chance to both receive and give love.
When I read about Mary and Elizabeth, I feel the love between these two matriarchs of our faith. Elizabeth’s blessing enlivens Mary and sustains her pregnant body and soul. Elizabeth gives birth to her son John and Mary goes on to give birth to her son Jesus. Can you imagine Mary looking into Jesus’ eyes and feeling alive because of the love she has for Him? Can you see in your imagination the wondrous love exchanged between Jesus and His mother? These tender moments of Mother and babe are blessed and full of life.
Offering a blessing is a way to love someone for who they are rather than who we want them to be. As we approach the birth of Jesus, the embodiment of love, consider how love moves us to the act of blessing people we encounter. Love animates and enlightens our interactions with each other. May you know the love of God and may God’s love energize your soul and body, just as it did for Mary.