The last days and fourth Sunday of Advent confront us and dare us to prepare—possibly in a more profound way. While many of us naturally may be preparing for Christmas by shopping and gift-giving, parties, holiday cards, claiming any remaining time off, finalizing travel plans, and increased worship, I wonder if you and I are going as deeply as we are invited to go. This question was raised last week during a conversation with a friend; we both were wrestling with the dilemma of “Christ and culture” and the constant call for Christians to be present to God amid the fullness of life.
Matthew 1:18–28 recalls that the prophet said, ”Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” In and of itself, the unfathomable notion of this instance in history calls us to be still and know that God is God. These words are loaded with holy invitation. Invitation to slow down just enough to not miss who and what will be revealed to us through the mystery of the Incarnation. Invitation to offer ourselves, souls, and bodies to the glory of God as good people of faith, hope, justice, and love. Invitation to become bold followers of the One who already redeemed us from sin and through salvation guarantees eternal life. Invitation to be rather different during the holiday season in the name of Christ the Savior.
Advent—through scripture, song, and prayer—teaches without apology that our individual preparation must be intentional; otherwise, we could loose sight and memory of both who and whose we are as children of God.
Let us find daily moments of radical mindfulness as we prepare—for God is with us—and God lives within us. May the Spirit of the Lord that came upon us in baptism come to life and help us to prepare the way of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus.
The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector