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Advent 4C RCL December 20, 2015

Micah 5:2-5a
Canticle 3, p. 50
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” This is what the angel Gabriel says to Mary as he is telling her that she will be the mother of our Savior. Gabriel says these words just after he tells Mary that her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who is far beyond childbearing age, has been pregnant for six months.

In the Gospel of Luke, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth  is the next thing that happens. Mary is so wise. She knows that she and Elizabeth will be able to support each other, so she makes the journey to see Elizabeth.  In those days, women did not travel alone, and I think Joseph went with her. We know how protective and supportive he was, and I am quite certain that he would not have wanted Mary to take risks.

The text tells us that Mary goes into the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and, when the two women greet each other, John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb! Even when they are babies in the womb, John recognizes and honors his kinsman and Lord. From the beginning, John knows he is called to prepare the way of the Lord.

Elizabeth bursts forth in the Hail Mary. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” Elizabeth recognizes the world-changing significance of this moment. Here are these two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth, at the center of events that will change the world, events that will let us know that nothing is impossible with God.

Both women are filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Mary bursts forth with her immortal song, the Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” And then Mary shares with us God’s vision of  shalom. God scatters the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. No longer does brute power rule the world. God brings down the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. God feeds the hungry and sends away those who have more than enough. God cares especially for the ordinary people. God stands against any form of oppression.

Here are these two courageous, prophetic women, Mary and Elizabeth, called by God to give birth to a new order, called by God to change the world.  May God give us one-tenth of the courage they have! May God give us the grace to leap at the sight of our Lord!

It is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Christmas is close, but it is not quite here yet. Here we are, between the first coming of Christ as a baby and his second coming to bring in his kingdom of love and peace.

And, of course, we are still praying for Paris, Brussels, Mali, Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, New York, refugees fleeing from Syria,  Afghanistan, and other places where life is impossible, and our whole beautiful world, which is filled with loving and caring people and yet is racked by so much violence and hatred.

This week, Beth sent us a poem by Madeleine L’Engle which expresses our situation. It’s called The Risk of Birth.

This is no time for a child to be born./ With the earth betrayed by war and hate/ And a nova lighting the sky to warn/That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born./In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;/ Honor and truth were trampled by scorn—/Yet here did the Savior make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?/ The inn is full on the planet earth,/ And by greed ad pride the sky is torn—Yet love still takes the risk of birth.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Amen.

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