This Sunday is the last Sunday in Advent and our attention turns to the mother of Jesus, Mary, and to an event that would have happened in March if Jesus was born in December. (Remember, no one knows the day Jesus was born because Matthew and Luke didn’t bother to tell us.) Mary’s advent, her period of waiting, would have been nine times longer than our Advent. The lesson in Luke that we read this past Sunday teaches us what Mary understood.
We marvel at Mary, the mother of the Messiah, herself a single, teenaged mother, herself poor and powerless. But she understood that the baby she would call Jesus was sent, not just to her, but to the world:
. . . To the hungry
. . . To the weak
. . . To the very young and very old
. . . To those who suffer or are in pain.
(Dean McIntyre, 2014 Advent Wreath Meditations, General Board of Discipleship UMC)
If we bear the Spirit of God and of Jesus, are we not also sent to those very same people? To whom will you be sent this Christmas and in 2015?
Our readings this week are:
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 – King David has finally defeated all his enemies (although more wars will follow) and he wants to build God a “house”. David seeks his prophet Nathan’s advise and is told OK. God speaks to Nathan that night and says “Not so fast. Did I ever ask anyone to build me a house?” God then tells Nathan to tell David that David’s “house” and kingdom would be established forever. Note the play on the word “house”. Also note that hundreds of years later, when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, and kill off the last heir to the throne of the King of Judah, the Jewish people struggled with their perception that God broke that promise. How does the baby born in Bethlehem (David’s hometown) restore that promise? Has God’s promise changed?
Luke 1:46-55 – This is Mary’s song when she was early in her pregnancy and went to visit her much older cousin Elizabeth. I read this passage this past Sunday. How does God enter into our world and to whom does God go to? The rich and powerful? The affluent and influent? Who is lifted up when God becomes one of us (the meaning of the word “incarnation”)?
OR Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 – This long Psalm has 52 verses and my Bible tells me that there are two distinct parts: Verses 1-37 from which our reading comes from and which celebrates the promise God made to David in our reading above; and Verses 38-51 which questions God’s faithfulness when Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed.
Romans 16:25-27 – Paul’s closing benediction to his letter to the church in Rome.
Luke 1:26-38 – The angel visits Mary, who is maybe 14 or 15. The message: you will get pregnant. This is “not so good” news because, as Mary says, she has no husband. The implication is that she will be shamed and outcast as a girl who went against societal norms. Yet, her response in verse 38 has intrigued Christians through the ages. What are you willing to go through and endure to serve the Lord?
May the Lord bless you through your service to others!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor