Have you ever taken the time to simply read the Christmas story? If you haven’t, that’s your homework this week! Read the first few introductory chapters of Luke’s Gospel and pay attention to his rich imagery. You’ll notice something almost immediately before this Gospel – men don’t say much of anything. Luke begins the story with Zechariah and Elizabeth, both descendants of the priestly class. They’re righteous folks who have everything going for them except one thing. They have no kids! Now they’re at the point where praying for them seems pointless. Strangely enough, Zechariah receives an honor – imagine that – and while fulfilling his temple duties, he is struck mute by the angel because he doesn’t believe Gabriel’s message. Joseph, the husband of Mary, pops up later, and he says nothing at all.
That’s where the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent comes in. Two women cousins rush to greet each other. Both are pregnant with miracle babies – one conceived in old age, the other through the intervention of God. But even beyond that, after the women bump tummies and have a raucous reunion, they begin to prophesy. Imagine that – a pregnant prophet! We don’t hear it in today’s Gospel, but Mary’s prayer even tells us about their conversation. They talk about how the world ought to be; they talk about what God wants of them; they talk about irrational stuff and social inequalities. They speak of a new world order. Imagine that! Imagine this new world order.
Here’s our Advent journey in a nutshell – we’re called to prepare for the Savior’s coming during the first weekend because we never know when that day might be. We’re called to prepare in a particular way the second week by asking God for healing and reconciliation. Last weekend, moving aside from our perceptions helps hit the reality of preparation home. Now this final weekend calls us to imagine one last thing – God will intervene in our life in a particular way. Really, this last weekend provides us a message of hope.
Do some imagining for me today. Imagine a Christmas where we invite our friends and neighbors to church who haven’t been in a while to come (and they actually do). Imagine a Christmas where children are more impressed with the baby Jesus than with the man in the red suit. Imagine a Christmas where faith and family is emphasized ahead of glitz and gifts. I know, it sounds radical; but it’s all not as far off as we might think!
On behalf of our staff and parishioners, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy time with family and friends and thanks for making St. Margaret so loving and welcoming!