Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 50; 147:1-11, Isaiah 29:9-24, Revelation 21:9-21, Luke 1:26-38
Workplace engagement is an area of increased focus for many employers. Engaged employees feel ownership of their jobs, feel like an integral part of a bigger team, and enjoy performing beyond minimum expectations. Disengaged employees are not necessarily bad employees, but usually perform below their potential because the job has ceased to matter to them. But engagement doesn’t create workaholics – work/life integration is essential for it. Disengaged employees often don’t even complain; they simply withdraw and go through the motions. Employers can’t provide engagement directly; both parties must communicate about and work toward it.
Religion and faith can be similar. Isaiah explains the frustrations of the prophets by saying they might as well be handing over sealed documents. The people who can read use the seal as an excuse not to, and the people who can’t read already have an excuse. Nobody in this picture is invested in doing more than they have to. Disengaged, they honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him.
Mary, by contrast, is as engaged as it gets. When the angel Gabriel tells her she will conceive a son, she asks how that is possible for a virgin. It’s not a defiant question, but an honest inquiry. Mary wants to communicate – to understand the big picture. When Gabriel explains it all, she replies: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” That’s not a passive “Whatever you say…” but a commitment to be faithful even in uncharted territories. Like engaged employees, the engaged faithful know there is always a new challenge approaching over the horizon, and they step up to meet it. Mary, a betrothed virgin, knows she will be facing many challenges, but is dedicated to the larger plan of salvation for her people.
Like Mary, we should not passively resign ourselves to an inescapable fate. Rather, we should wrestle with it, hammer it out with our own angels, and find our place in the scheme of things. Sincere (if questioning) lips are preferable to distant hearts just punching the clock.
Comfort: An engaged faith unlocks your potential.
Challenge: Where in your life are you simply going through the motions? Is it something you need to abandon or to take more seriously?
Prayer: Creator God, I pray for a heart like Mary’s, true and strong. Amen.
Discussion: Have you had a job you just didn’t care about? If so, what did you do about it?
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