†In this end is our beginning....
Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year C
December 24, 2006
Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year C
December 24, 2006
Let us pray: O God, the waiting is almost over, the preparation is almost complete. Mind our anticipation, halter our excitement for one moment more, that the full power of your presence may reveal itself in surprise and insight. Amen.
†† †Have you ever been a part of something that even though it didnít seem like much at the time, you just knew it was going to change? I wonder if the fabled early investors in the Trivial Pursuit game a couple of decades ago felt that way. Maybe you were one of the first in your circle of friends to use the Google search engine, or perhaps you saw Kurt Browning, Elvis Stokjo, or Jamie Sale and David Pelletier when they were eight years old. Maybe you watched Sidney Crosby in a pee-wee game of hockey, or attended a university class taught by Stephane Dion.
†† †Maybe nothing like that comes to mind. Maybe you were there, but found yourself among the doubting majority. Maybe the leading edge has always just been a little bit out of your reach. Donít worry, I believe that most people feel that way most of the time.
†† †But guess what. I have news for you. Itís happening right now. And it has happened before. Not one of you from this moment on, and for most of you from many moments in the past can say that it hasnít happened. Hereís why.
†† †From this moment on you can say that you were there when Sage was baptised. From this time into the future you can remember that you were there on the day Fraser was christened.
†† †But thatís just the beginning. Here you are, perched on the edge which separates advent and Christmas in 2006. The time of waiting is almost over, the preparation is practically complete. But wait, whatís this...a baby, born to a migrant couple in a cow barn? If you are talking about not seeming like much at the time, this certainly fits the bill.
†† †There were hints about it in the passages we heard this morning, but they were written later. Try to imagine yourself in Maryís place. If you are a woman you can probably do a better job of it - the fear of being pregnant. But if you are male, like Joseph, you can put yourself in his shoes too. A young wife, and you are in an unfamiliar place, even if it is your so-called hometown.
†† †Not the kind of thing that you expect would change the world forever. Not the kind of thing that can change your life forever, except maybe to imagine that things could get worse. Another mouth to feed. A perilous journey back to Nazareth with a newborn child. These are not the kind of situations that shout out for notice except to demonstrate the precariousness of life, the hazards presented by even the smallest change in circumstance.
†† †Small things count is the way hymn writer Shirley Murray puts it. Cups of water she wrote, but thinking back to what happened a few moments ago letís change that to drops of water, and then she continues, crumbs of bread. Grains of yeast inside the dough, puffs that fill a big balloon, notes that make a happy tune.
†† †Maryís song, the one that Luke gave her to sing when he wrote his gospel, puts it this way (as paraphrased by me from the paraphrase of Eugene Peterson in The Message):†† †
†† ††† †† I'm bursting with God-news;
†† ††† †††††† I'm dancing the song of my Saviour God.
†† ††† †††††† God took one good look at me, and look what happenedó
†† ††† †††††† I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
†† ††† ††† What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
†† ††† †††††† the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
†† ††† ††† Godís mercy flows in wave after wave
†† ††† †††††† on those who are in awe before God..
†† ††† ††† Godís arm was bared and Godís strength was shown,
†† ††† †††††† scattered the bluffing braggarts.
†† ††† ††† God† knocked tyrants off their high horses,
†† ††† †††††† pulled victims out of the mud.
†† ††† ††† The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
†† ††† †††††† the callous rich were left out in the cold.
†† ††† ††† God embraced Godís chosen child, Israel;
†† ††† †††††† God remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
†† ††† ††† It's exactly what God† promised,
†† ††† †††††† beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
†† †You see, the message is that God is always ready to making something big out of something that doesnít seem like much at the time. In fact, God is most likely to make it big out of something small. The last shall be first, the lowly will be raised up.
†† †Thatís why it is important to be ready. Thatís why you need to notice small things - it could be the whisper of God, it could be the tickle of the spirit brushing by.
†† †Your journey from advent to Christmas will happen, but the moment of crossing the boundary may be imperceptible to you. Something someone says, a chance comment from a child with whom you share the next few hours or days, a sudden insight that shows you just a glimpse of Godís upside-down world. Christmas is a fanfare of blaring trumpets and exultant celebration only because we know that something big came from something hesitatingly insignificant, from an iffy incident in a palestinian agricultural suburb. God is ever ready to do it all over again. God is most likely to do it like this again. In this end of advent is our beginning....and you are here! Amen.