9 December 2018
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Let us pray. Holy One, through your Spirit, instruct us with the light of your word. Illumine our hearts, that we may hear and heed your call to become your path into the world. Through Christ we pray, Amen.
A reading from the gospel of Luke 1:68-79. In this portion of Scripture often called the Canticle of Zechariah – the words on the father’s lips when he looked upon his son who would grow to be known as John the Baptizer; listen for God’s word to us.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before God all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!
It’s a crazy story. Shocking in its detail, though familiarity has dulled us to its preposterousness. How could an occupied people still believe they mattered at all to the Great LORD of the heavens and earth? How could a nation crushed over and over by invading armies for centuries keep hope in the midst of that kind of darkness? The audacity of the little guy to believe they still might matter as we hear in the words of Zechariah, the father of one charged with preparing the way for the LORD. . . . Think of what we’re told takes place: a virgin conceives? A man keeps his wedding engagement due to strange words in a dream? Messengers from God – a whole host of them rouse lowly shepherds with good news of favor unto all? And how about millennia of people around the world continuing to pay homage to a baby who was smuggled into a neighboring country by his parents because a power-crazed king felt threatened by his birth?
It’s crazy. Logic-defying stuff we come back to each year. For that’s what it means to be the people of God called the Church. We exist because of this story. We are gathered because of this Truth. That hope – the belief, the trust in the possibility of a better tomorrow – prevails. No matter the darkness, Light still shines. The little guy matters – in fact, all of us matter to the Force that is unending Love, the One who rules over all. We’re here to remember, as the angel said to the young girl, that nothing shall be impossible with God. Maybe we too can gain direction for the living of our days through the messages of our dreams, and the songs sung out in glory, and the favor that rests on us all – especially, as the babe once gargling in a manger, grew up to declare: the last, the least, the despised of the world. We are the people shaped by the Truth that all find rest in the fold of a Great loving Shepherd.
Open yourself again to the audacity of the story. Allow your heart to soar with the angelic chorus. The Word is for us – to be in us, that we too might go into the world to tell!
SCRIPTURE READING (Luke 2:1-7)
Typically, this reading is reserved for Christmas Eve – not the second Sunday of Advent. But listen to this most beautiful part of it all.
“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
This is the word of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God!
Glory might be the best word in response to it! Glory to God on high! Glory to the newborn King! Glory in excelsis! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! . . . Did you know that according to Siri, glory means high renown or honor won by notable achievements? Webster’s defines glory similarly. But just what has God achieved in Christ’s birth? . . . Taking on flesh, the Eternal Word blesses us. Being humbled to be found in human form, brings immense value to our life on this earth. Emptying Self to live in us, lifts us up to be children of Light – the spark of the Divine within – to shine for all to see!
Christ is the Light of the world! And all who follow in his form. All who empty self in service to Life, Live. Truly Live. . . . Just what has God achieved in Christ’s birth? The start of the revolution: the New Creation begins!
Glory to God on high!
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