Pondering, Songs of Assent

Four Fiats

No, I’ve not taken to writing new slogans for Italian made cars that can be trusted. That is a Fi-at’. I am writing instead about fi’-at, the great “let it be done” in redemptive history. This fiat is not a resigned acceptance, a sort of spiritualized “que sera, sera, whatever will be will be.” Rather this fiat is a living desire: “It is so, may it be so.” There is passion and strength and purpose and abandon to this “let it be.”

After all it’s an expression that we find first and last on the lips of the Godhead. At the moment of creation. God says, “Let there be light [according to MY word]. And it was so.” And at the pivotal moment where the God man sets his face toward the cross, Jesus cries out, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). These are bookend fiats. The creation fiat brings life in all its fullness, the crucifixion fiat embraces death and all that provokes it so that fullness of life might be restored.

And in between these two firm acts of will lies the response of a young girl. For Mary’s “let it be to me according to your word” is this living desire of a mere creature to surrender her whole life as a tablet for God to write his story upon. But Mary’s deep receptivity is not based merely on the presence of a terrifying angel with amazing news. Gabriel first establishes the basis on which his words are to be trusted. She is folded into the Mosaic covenant in which the presence of God is synonymous with God’s favor. And she is directed to the Davidic covenant where a child from her womb will be given the throne of his father David.

Her fiat rests on the foundation of substantive revelation. She is drawn as participant into a story she already knows–at least in part. And in the gracious confidence of recognizing truth and responding to it with all her heart, Mary borrows a bit on her son’s total embracing of personal death so that others might live. Fiat this side of the fall always comes with a price.

Yet there is one final fiat. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is the ‘let it be” of the Church and every Christian soul within her. Perhaps we would do well to learn to pray the Lord’s prayer with the immediacy of Mary. May your kingdom come, your will be done on this bit of earth, in the dust of my flesh, that heaven and earth might just kiss each other on this day, in this place.

“It is so. May it be so.” Today.

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