Friday, December 18, 2015
As we count the days to Christmas, measuring time by what we have yet to do, we trust that there is still room to give ample attention to matters of faith as well. The challenge of Advent is to take notice of those things that can easily get overlooked. Often it is in the unremarkable that we discover the sustaining and transforming gifts. Our Advent time best prepares us for Christmas joy when we measure the days by God’s goodness and wisdom.
In this way we might ask: have we noticed anything new in this season of our lives? Has hope enlivened us and filled us with expectation for the Christmas message – the fulfillment of God’s promise born in Bethlehem? Are we any more awake to God’s activity among us? I think of Zechariah’s song: By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us… (Luke 1:78) Do our yearnings lift our sights to such promise?
Themes of the season name how faith is active in love: patience, preparation, repentance, and waiting! While our tendencies would have us hurry by with worry, the season calls us to slow the pace so we can take notice. The songs, prayers and reflections of December lead us to be awake to where God draws near.
The prophet Micah could see in a place called Bethlehem the certain promise of God at work. It was from such an unlikely place that God’s surprising way forward could be found. And so we sing, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” And the lives of Elizabeth and Mary told in Luke’s Gospel brought this home. They gave witness to the faithfulness of God by their reception of God at work through them. Their stories like that of Sarah and Hannah remind us of the arc of God’s reassuring promise over time and through ordinary places and people.
Christmas worship is around the corner. We will celebrate the story and join in the song of the church across the pages of time. If we let it, the relationships around us that are so much a part of our ordinary days and routines just might shine brightly enough to be noticed for the gifts that they truly are. And we too might even surprise ourselves by all the kindness given and received – signs of “the dawn of redeeming grace.”