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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Advent 4B RCL December 24, 2017

Isaiah 11:1-1
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Romans 16:25-17
Luke 1:26-38

Today, because we are thinking about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we are also going to think about giving birth to Jesus.

Meister Eckhart wrote, “What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the son of God in my time and in my culture?”

Francis of Assisi wrote,
“We are the mother of Christ when we carry him in our heart and body by love and a pure and sincere conscience. And we give birth to him through our holy works which ought to shine on others by our example.”

Mechtild of Magdeburg wrote, “Mary, you birthed to earth your son. You birthed the son of God from heaven by breathing the Spirit of God.”

And, once again, Meister Eckhart: “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”

Here we are beholding a paradoxical, mysterious truth that takes us right into the heart of God—beyond the prison of logic, beyond our tendency to go to our frontal cortex and limit God’s truth.

We are all called to give birth to God. We have a wonderful example, a courageous, wise young woman named Mary. The angel Gabriel told her she was going to give birth to the Son of God. He also told her that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby in her old age. And Mary had the wisdom and the presence of mind to go and visit Elizabeth. She went to offer and receive support on this life-changing, world-changing journey they were now making, a journey that would change millions of lives including ours.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And the Word was full of grace and truth, and the Word, the logos who called the creation into being, dwelt among us. Jesus was God walking the face of the earth. He taught, he healed, he loved everyone, and I mean everyone, even lepers, even tax collectors. And, of course, he is calling us to do the same thing. He is calling us to follow him and to be like him. He is calling us to give birth to him in our lives and to grow into the likeness of him.

As we take that deep breath, and our lungs expand, and our hearts fill with the awareness of his presence, our lives open to embrace the vision of his shalom of wholeness and harmony. The creation is made whole. Lions and lambs and calves and wolves and everyone and everything else live in peace. Everyone and everything is one. Everything and everyone is nurtured.

Matthew Fox asks, “What would it mean to live in a nurturing world?”My answer would be, the shalom of God would be here, which brings us back to Advent.

Here we are, between the beginning and the completion of the Kingdom, the realm. the shalom of Christ. God is building that shalom, quietly and inexorably. And God is calling us to help.

As we look around, we can see the gap between the vision and the realization of the plan. Between the current situation and the ultimate hope. There seems to be a long way to go.

That’s where the giving birth comes in. We take a deep breath. We fill our lungs with God’s holy and whole-making oxygen. We fill ourselves with God’s presence. We recall that Jesus tells us, “My kingdom is within you.” We breathe out that peace into the world, We breathe out that harmony, that healing, that wholeness.

As Kenneth Kirk would say, We try, with God’s grace, to “cope from the presence of God” in everything that we do. In every action, we try to give birth to God. In every word, thought, everything we say or do or think, we give birth to God. It’s a work in process. We are not perfect, but we were created good, and the creation was created good. Jesus is right in the midst of us and even within us, and we’re following him. He is walking with us, and we are walking with him.

The shalom of God is full of peace and nurture. (Isaiah 11:6-9) The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

As we take that deep breath, every breath, and give birth to Christ, to God, and to the Spirit, we are giving birth to God’s realm of peace and wholeness. We are giving birth to God’s shalom. We live that wholeness and that harmony.

Matthew Fox asks, “What would it mean to live in a nurturing world?”

What would it be like to have “this fragile earth, our island home” wrapped in peace? What would it be like to have no war, no conflict of any kind, with all of us seeing the God in each other and with all of our energies devoted to things that are creative? Things such as nurturing our planet, raising and sharing food and all the other things that bring life? And none of the things that bring death.

What would it mean to live in a nurturing world? Each of us has a vision of that. Each of us has been given gifts to help God to bring that vision to fruition. As St. Francis says, “Each of us gives birth to him through our holy works.”

Right now, we are taking a deep breath in this most holy place, this thin place where God is so present. Here in Sheldon, where there are more farms per square mile than anywhere else in Vermont, we are close to the earth. We are close to God’s humus, God’s good nurturing earth. This is a good place to practice humility. Humility is not groveling or denying the gifts God has given us, Humility is openness, like the openness of a field that has been prepared for planting. Humility comes from humus, God’s good soil, earthiness. So, we are open, we are humble, we are ready for planting, for the planting of the Word, the planting of the new life, the planting of Christ’s shalom.

Here in Grace Church, where people of faith have prayed for years upon years, where we have met God over and over in new ways each time we visit. Here in Grace Church, here in Vermont, here on planet earth, in the presence of our loving God, we will grow more and more open to the new life God is planting in us. Our humility will grow. We will be more and more open to God’s gifts to us and God’s call to us.

And we will give birth. We will grow closer and closer to God and to each other. And God will continue to build community. And God will continue to build God’s shalom. And we will be transformed. “And the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.”  Amen.

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