Mary was on all counts a person of no particular account. She was no king like David. And yet it was in her that God’s Word came to fruition. Why? Because she waited upon the Word, and when it came she said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.” She did not set out to build God a house. It was God who reached out and touched her, who claimed her in his Word and for his Word, who made his dwelling place in her.
Advent is a time for people who need hope. Advent is a time for people who know that all is not well, who feel it in their heart of hearts, who wake in the night sometimes with a cry. All flesh is grass! My life is dried up; I do not know what it means anymore. Our lives are gone astray in all the holly jolly, and I cannot hear, I cannot see what is good.
Does it make sense to invite us to immerse ourselves in our deepest dissatisfactions? Yet, for 4 weeks in Advent, this is exactly what we do as a people.
While all around us, the lights, the bells, the “good cheer”, telling us to feel happy and spend money; all is well with the economy and with us. But for 4 weeks, as a Christian people, we say, “in our souls we know better: it is not well with us”.
What if Jesus told us that one day all the things we take for granted—our security, our nationhood, our food supply, our natural environment and our worldly truths—will all be overturned in an instant. Like a flash of lightning, the Son of Man will return and “heaven and earth” as we know it “will pass away” ( Matthew 24.35).
The kingdom of the Lord does not look like earthly dominions. His coming does not look like the triumphal entry of any earthly ruler
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” This commandment would have been associated with a particular image for those hearing it in John’s day. Ancient pagan societies used to prepare paths for processions of their gods. So the word that comes to John reframes this image of a god, sending this message: Your God is coming. Your God is near. Prepare, so that you don’t miss it.
To wait is to be a community that has been and is being formed into the likeness of Jesus. Thus, the witness of Jesus’ followers has a definite shape—we ourselves are to be the exemplification of what we have to say.
Perhaps in the darkness of our December mornings we should all rise up early and look for that dawning light, and be filled with the promise that God has decided to save us from despair, from being lost or simply crushed by our sins.
What would it be like to have been one of the disciples, to have met Jesus face to face? To sit down and talk to him? Implicit in our desire is the assumption that if Jesus were physically present, if he walked down the aisle of this church today it would be so much easier for us to know him, to trust him, to have faith in him. But is that true?