random musings...

Tag: Advent

Nothing is Impossible

The baby Jesus arrived in this world with high expectations. Not many babies have their births announced by an angel. Mary must have been scared and overwhelmed when the angel visited her and told her she was going to give birth to such a special child. In the story as told in the gospel of Luke, Mary runs off to visit her relative Elizabeth shortly after the angel’s visit. I wonder if she sought out Elizabeth, an elder of her family, for reassurance. The angel after all had said that Elizabeth’s own pregnancy was proof that with God nothing was impossible. Elizabeth seemed to provide a port in the storm for Mary, a place of comfort and welcome, when Mary probably wasn’t sure how her own family and future husband were going to react to the news that a baby was on its way.

Where do we turn to when life gets overwhelming? Of course, we can turn to God, but do we also have an Elizabeth in our lives? Someone we can turn to when we need unconditional love, when we are uncertain and scared? Do we have someone like that in our lives? Can we be that for someone else? How can we provide a warm welcome, reassurance and hope, to someone who is overwhelmed by life? Christmas is about the birth of God’s love in human form – the promise that with God nothing is impossible – but it’s about reminding us that that love is born within us too.

Imagine for a moment that you are pregnant with God’s love… that you are about to give birth to the embodiment of sacred love… a love that is needed to heal the world…

That might be just a little bit scary. It might make us want to run and hide, to find refuge where we will be welcomed and reassured. Can we be that refuge for each other? Maybe beginning as Elizabeth did, with a warm greeting, maybe a hug, and a listening ear. God doesn’t call us to save the world a la James Bond, by killing the bad guys. God calls us to love our enemies, to embody love, to treat the world justly with compassion – and then challenge others to do the same.

When Mary hurried off to visit Elizabeth, she went seeking something. She went seeking reassurance that with God all things are indeed possible. Elizabeth welcomed her with love and hope, for where there is love there is hope. When we trust in the limitless possibilities of God, there is hope. This Christmas may the love of God be birthed anew in each of us.

(I originally wrote this short reflection for my church’s newsletter. It was inspired by my sermon from Sunday, December 18, 2016. The church’s website is http://www.phoenixchurch.org)

Wolf and the Lamb

Advent is a time of waiting. We await the birth of the Christ child but perhaps even more importantly we await what the Christ child represents: change. Christ brings us the promise of a new way of living in the world, a new way of doing and being. Into our current world that is so obsessed with greed and power, love is born. But Advent isn’t just about waiting as if God is suddenly going to solve our problems. It’s about an active waiting, anticipating and preparing for how we can participate in this new world – how we can help bring hope by creating peace and justice in our lives and in our society.

In the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, the prophet also gave the people of Israel a vision of a different kind of world. This was a world where “common sense” was turned upside down and where the wolf and the lamb lived in peace. Not a world where the lamb defeated the wolf in battle but where they learned to live harmoniously. A world where the lamb no longer needed to fear. Is Isaiah’s words, this would be a world filled with the knowledge of God, a world without violence or oppression for if we truly know the love of God we cannot do violence and harm to others.

For us who follow Christ, we understand this vision of a different way to be fulfilled in Christ. By knowing Christ we know God. But simple knowledge of doctrines concerning Christ isn’t enough. We also need to “know” Christ as we know a trusted friend. We need to know Christ in our hearts and not just our heads for it is in our hearts where transformation and growth must take place. How we act in the world doesn’t change unless our hearts change. How do we do this? Can we forget about doctrines and whether we’re believing the “right” things and just feel the presence of Christ, of love, in our hearts? Perhaps what we really anticipate during Advent is the birth of Christ into our hearts, continually, that we might be set upon a path of transformation and love.

This Advent, let us in our anticipation make room in our hearts for the birth of the love of Christ that we might be transformed and in turn begin to transform the world. For where there is love, there is hope. Let in the Spirit of God this Advent that it may bring us the wisdom and courage we need to create a new world where the wolf and lamb live together in peace, where we stand up for the oppressed, where people are treated fairly with compassion. This Advent let us be God’s love to the world.

(I originally wrote this short reflection for my church’s newsletter. It was inspired by my sermon from Sunday, December 4, 2016. The church’s website is http://www.phoenixchurch.org)

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