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Purify Our Conscience: A Prelude to Christmas Eve

Tags: birth jesus mary
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a
mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.--Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

For many of us, today is going to be a crazy and dizzying day of two different church services. This morning is Advent 4 in which we hear the annunciation and we learn that a young girl, Mary, agrees to be the mother of God. This evening, we will all reconvene in a church sanctuary bedecked in green and white to celebrate the Birth of Jesus. In church liturgical time, nine months goes by rather rapidly!

Real time, of course, doesn't move so fast. So let's slow it down for just a moment...and stay in this moment of the morning with annunciation. This is a special mission, this idea that God will be manifest in the world in the form of a human baby and born in the same fashion that all human babies of the time came into the world. I imagine that this was also a method that was fraught with lots of danger in those days. Childbirth is dicey medical business and there were no incubators or sterilized surgical equipment. Heck, the mythology of Jesus' birth is that he came into the world in a stable with animals and hay. Talk about poor and lowly!

And that's really the main point: the Christ child, the one who was born to lead his people with Love as his sword and shield, was not born into comfort. Even the times of that day were hard and difficult for the Israelites. Their temple had been destroyed, they had been conquered and scattered, and the Roman Empire was notorious for being every bit as harsh as the Egyptians had been to the Jews many centuries before. The Jews were permitted to have their religion, but were heavily taxed, and were expected to keep their heads down and not disturb the balance of power...which was against them. Those who did attempt to revolt were killed and their deaths were on display as a reminder to anyone else who dared to question the Emperor or his subordinates. And yet....

The angel Gabriel comes to a teenage girl and doesn't pose a question: Will you bear a child who you will name Jesus who will be Emmanuel--God with us? Instead, the story the evangelist Luke gives to us is that Gabriel basically voluntold Mary that she had been chosen to take on this incredible responsibility. Mary, like anyone who has experienced a call from God to step out and do something they weren't prepared to do, is mystified and does some push back: how is this possible? I've never had sex? Look at me: I'm barely in my teens! And, just like anyone who has experienced a call from God to step out and do something they weren't prepared to do, the answers come back to her: trust this. Nothing is impossible with God. Girl, you're gonna be alright. You are exactly the one and this exactly the time and place. 

We are living in a time so many thousands of years later that still has extreme poverty and cruelty and oppression where those with means and money work to crush the hope of those without the capital. I suppose then as we celebrate this story of how Mary trusted in God enough to allow herself to be a main player in the story of his birth, we need to look at our own selves and see how perhaps God is searching out the people who will embody Christ and give a figurative birth to that one who will lead us back to Love in these times of despair. And this isn't going to happen in those places of comfort and fancy houses and mansions  on a beach in Florida. It will be coming from the many who are meek and lowly of our world...the 99-percent. Prepare ye the way.

This post first appeared on Wake Up And LIVE, please read the originial post: here

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Purify Our Conscience: A Prelude to Christmas Eve


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