December 24, 2017 Advent 4
This has been a short Advent season. Actually, the shortest that it can be. Now, we find ourselves on the cusp of Christmas, and not quite there yet. We long for it and it appears within our reach, yet is still to come. In our longing and waiting for Christmas, have we taken time to really think about what we are waiting for? Are we waiting to receive the material things that were on our Christmas list? Are we eagerly waiting to see the reactions on our loved ones faces when they open the presents we bought them after having spent the past month hunting down the greatest deals.
The greatest gift that we could receive has already been given to us. That gift however, gets lost in the hustle and bustle and flashing lights of what Christmas has been turned into. It starts as soon as Halloween is over, if not before, and distracts us from relationships that could truly help shape us as people of God.
The news that Mary receives in the last Advent Gospel lesson this year throws a wrench into her and Joseph’s marriage plans. First, the fact they were not married yet, created problems for them in the eyes of the law. Being an unwed pregnant mother could result in a death penalty. Mary could have been stoned to death if anyone had found out her news.
Second, what was she going to say to Joseph? What would his reaction be to the news that the angel Gabriel delivered to her? Would he believe her, or would he think that she had cheated on him before they were even married? He may have possibly been one of the first to throw a stone.
This is not the game plan that she had anticipated when arrangements were made for Joseph to become her husband and she his wife. What now would become of their future together? There has to be a point when she realized that she had no control over the calling God had placed upon her.
This is what is most important for some people. The ability to control every individual part of their lives. The moment they begin to lose control, it feels as though everything will fall apart. If you have control, then that means you have power. If you have power, then you are able to make the decisions that will affect the future. The focus is then shifted to the individual person rather than the community.
Some people are much better at relinquishing control than others. We all know people that would rather not be in control. However, who are they following? Are they following someone that is leading them in the right direction, or are they being led astray?
History has its fair share of people that have led others down the wrong path. With the promise of safety and comfort, it is amazing what we can find ourselves doing, even if we know deep in our hearts that it is wrong.
Mary changes everything when she relinquishes control and boldly proclaims to God, “Here am I.” There is also a bit of obedience that accompanies her. In the moments since the angel Gabriel comes to share the good news, she has a decision to make. She could flat out refuse and stomp off in the other direction, or she could listen and discern who God is calling her to be.
What an incredible weight that has been placed upon an unwed teenager. In Luke’s gospel, she does not stumble. She does not hem or haw in any way, other than asking how is this possible? I would be wondering the same thing myself. Pregnant by the movement of the Holy Spirit. Carrying the Messiah of the World.
She is open to the wonder that God has in store for her. Through any fear and wondering that may have crept up in her mind and heart, she is obedient to God and boldly proclaims, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” She is prepared for what God has called her to and she does so willingly as she knows the word from the angel Gabriel is one of peace and endless joy. God has come to her in the words of the angel Gabriel and she is now prepared to carry that Word to the rest of the world.
What does it take for us to relinquish control?
Are we prepared to wait in this Advent season and watch for the Messiah as our Advent candle lighting hymn says?
As we do so, are we prepared to step forward and respond to God’s calling in our lives with a bold, “Here am I.”
Here am I, willing to stand up for my neighbors when they are not being cared for.
Here am I, serving my brothers and sisters that may not be as fortunate as I am.
Here am I, asking for repentance and letting you guide me in this life you have called me to.
We eagerly anticipate the coming of this evenings services so that we can celebrate the birth of the Messiah. A birthday like no other and an opportunity to remember the coming of Jesus Christ into our world to walk among us and remind us that we are loved and saved by grace.
Let us pray…God Incarnate, we sit and wait to celebrate the coming of your Son into our world. As we wait and watch, let us not forget your presence is already with us. May we be patient until your kingdom fully comes to us. Amen.