Fourth Sunday, advent


While Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas, what preparation was there for the first advent of Christmas? That is after all the beginning of that Christmas narrative. It is Mary’s encounter with an angel, and Joseph’s also listening to an angel in a dream, and it is Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Zachariah’s encounter with yet another angel, and John the Baptists leap for Joy in Elizabeth’s womb. Each are contained in that story of the Advent of Christmas, and each individual story tells something of what it took to prepare for that first nativity. In Mary’s encounter, it’s her faith in God to carry a child not conceived by man, and her joy is that conception. A child conceived by God is a radical departure from the patriarchy of the day. In the advent of Christmas, through Mary’s conception is also the birth of the definition of the first person of the Trinity; God the Father. Such is Mary’s strength in faith to receive God’s message, and to be obedient to it. It is her faith that sees a child yet born as savior, an order in contrast to the hierarchies of Herod and of Rome. In that joy she visits Elizabeth, once barren yet now also bearing a new life, and renewed in spirit. In visiting Elizabeth Mary brings her faith to others and renews their faith. Hers is a faith that radiates. In Zachariah, there is weariness and doubt, but then a change in Faith, and John their son who leaps for joy. Finally there is Joseph, who does not reject that faith of Mary’s but instead accepts the task of following through on his conviction in this Christ child. Each no longer a slave to the old law, but instead obedient to the wisdom of God delivered by Gods messenger. Angels are Gods messengers. Each preparing that path for the Lord as John would later exclaim. Each plays a role in the advent of that nativity. Each prepares for a new life, shifts their vision, is renewed in spirit, and begins a new journey with that new promise. Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, Elizabeth, and John are those that prepared for Christ, received him, accepted him, labored for him, and announced him on the Advent of Christmas.

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