Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nothing Will Be Impossible For God

December 20, 2010
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!" Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:11-14

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

God, help us to get ready for your return by welcoming Jesus into this world in the faces of the people and the places where we go this week. Send your Holy Spirit to make sure that our prayer and work is not just the “busy-ness” of the shopping season, but also that we recognize that Christmas is coming in just six days! Help us rejoice with the awesome message of this season. Amen.

Advertising experts tell us that they have to tell us a message seven times before we hear it and understand it. How much easier it was for the angel of God to communicate with Mary! One time was all it took for Mary to comprehend the full meaning of what was happening.

The people of her faith community had been waiting centuries for God to return. We have been preparing for all of four weeks. Are we as ready as Mary?

Mary must have known today’s passage from Isaiah. Surely she heard it recited often in the temple. In school. In prayer. When the voice of God spoke to her, this poor peasant girl, betrothed to the village carpenter, understood.

As we walk through the malls and drive the decorated streets of our neighborhoods, the decorations of Christmas certainly make the message of the season seem like a very happy one. But consider the pure shock value of the message sent to Mary and Joseph. To the unmarried teenager, you will become pregnant. To the betrothed husband, your wife will carry a baby not conceived with you. Their commerce in local society would be shame and humiliation. Maybe that’s another good reason God arranged for them to fly to Egypt for protection from the judgment of the town elders.

Consider then the shock value of the coming baby. Rather than marching into this world behind a legion of angels with swords and trumpets proclaiming his path in the parade, God is getting ready to come into the world as a naked, vulnerable, crying baby. There is no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to escort him to Herald Square.

When the voice of God speaks to us, do we understand? Like Mary and Joseph, do we hear what that voice is telling us and act through faith and obedience?

God shares the vulnerability felt by Mary and Joseph. God to be humbled. God to be borne of a virgin. God to cry out in the stable.

When that voice of God cries out to us, will we comprehend the full meaning of what is being said? Look beyond the decorations of the season for the heart of the season as we complete our final week of preparation for the prophecy to be fulfilled.