Light-Bearer

Scripture Text: Luke 1: 39-45 (Advent 4C)

39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

So, we have one more week.  You know, in those days, it would have taken about that long to get from Galilee to Bethlehem, so, chances are, Mary and Joseph would have left…about now.   It would have been a hard journey.  They could only travel during the day and would have had to somehow find warmth and shelter in the cold desert wilderness at night.  They wouldn’t have traveled alone.  That would not have been smart.  They could not have gone straight through Samaria because it was not a friendly country.  So, they probably would have traveled along the Jordan River and then turned near Jericho just north of the Dead Sea and headed toward Jerusalem.  The way would not have been easy, but, as they traveled, God made room for them, providing a pathway of light, probably fellow travelers, and a perseverance to get them to Bethlehem.  And there, in the dim light of a stable, the glory of God would be revealed in the child that was born to Mary.

This story that we love so much is not only a story of God’s coming into the world.  God would never have been able to come if somewhere along the way, someone had not made room in her life for God to come.  So, we hear of a young girl who put her life’s plans aside and made room to participate in God’s work of salvation.   And there with her, is her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, who, putting their convenience and their reputation at risk, opened their home to make room for the young girl.  That young girl was not just a vehicle for God’s work.  She wasn’t some random person that God used.  That young girl was a Light-Bearer.  She made room for the Light of Life to come into the world.

So, this story is as much an invitation as it is something in which we believe.  It is an invitation to us to open our eyes, open our hearts, and, yes, open our minds to the ways that God comes into our lives and the ways that God is calling us to participate in the changing of the world.  See, we are all called to be Light-Bearers.  We are called to bring the Light of God revealed through Jesus Christ into the world.  Oh, you don’t have time?  You’re not ready?  You’re not trained?  You’re afraid?  Alright, focus…Mary was just a young girl.  She was still maturing, still growing into who she would be.  She was planning her wedding.  And then this angel shows up and, well, you just won’t even believe what all happened.  Mary had plans for her life.  And yet here was this angel, a messenger of God, asking her to put all those plans aside and do this one little thing for the world.  Mary was asked to birth the Light of God into the world.  (No big deal, right?) She sat there stunned, the light probably draining from her face.  The angel waited.  The world waited.  God waited.  The Light hung suspended for a moment, waiting, with the darkness nipping at its heels.  And then Mary responded, “Let it be…let it be according to God’s Word.”

So, in these days leading up to Christmas and beyond, when you answer the door or find yourself in conversation or are met by someone who asks you to rearrange your mind a bit, remember that you never know when you might come face to face with the sacred, with the Divine, with God.  And our faith tells us that when that happens, it’s all about making room for God to do something new.  It’s about becoming a Light-Bearer.  The Light shines on you.  It is getting brighter and brighter with each day’s journey.  It is the same Light that God created so long ago.  It is the same Light that brought the world to this place we read about today.  It is the same Light that Mary birthed into the World.  And it has been there ever since—shining into our lives, inviting us to bear the Light to the world.  Let it be according to God’s Word. 

When I first met him, I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there’d be room for him to stay. (Brian Andreas, “The Story People”) 

Grace and Peace,

 Shelli

Or Should We Wait for Another?

Reflexion of a lunar path in water.2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  (Matthew 11: 2-11)

So, are you the one?  Because, see, we’re putting a lot into this.  We need to be sure.  We do not want to be surprised again.  So, just tell us, “are you the one or do we need to keep looking?”  We’re like that.  We want to be certain.  We don’t want to waste our time or our emotions.  We want to get the show on the road but we want to make sure that the road we’re on is the way home.

John was, of course, the forerunner, the one who was to point to the One who was pointing to God.  So, John had gotten on board quick, preaching his message of immediate repentance with all the evangelistic fervor of one of those early morning television preachers.  But then when Jesus finally comes on the scene, he starts healing and freeing and forgiving and welcoming and doing all sorts of things that were not going to move this along any faster.  Jesus was not what John had envisioned and certainly not what we wanted to see.  So, he just bluntly asks, “Are you really the one?”  In other words, are you sure you have the personality for this job?  Maybe we need to put some feelers out.  Maybe, well, you know, maybe we need someone that is a little more direct, someone who looks like what people want to see.

So, are we any different?  We all probably have a certain image of what Jesus should be.  We have an image of the way we should act, the way we should dress, the way we should worship to give God the glory in the way that we have figured out God wants to be glorified.  And we have shut out the ways and those that do not fit that mold.  Advent is a season that teaches us a different way of seeing.  Advent shakes loose the cobwebs that have begun to grow around our hardened and finished ideas of who God is and who God wants us to be.  Advent opens us to the possibility that God will come anew into places that we thought we had already figured out.  Advent prepares us not to know the old, old story again but rather read its rewritten version that God is already writing on our hearts.  Advent tears down the fences and the walls and the borders that we have built and calls us to a faraway place where we will find God.

So, should we wait for another?  Well, I supposed you could.  Or you could just open your eyes and your hearts to the One that has come and that will come again given the chance.

Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.   (John Wesley)

FOR TODAY:  About what are you so certain that you have quit searching?

 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

 

Why Are You Searching for Me?

Looking for God49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 49)

 

This passage will come in a few weeks. I won’t go into it. But the question of “why were you searching for me?” begs a lot of additional questions. After all, in this season of Advent, for whom are we waiting? For whom are we searching? Why were you searching for me? Later, the adult Jesus invites us to come and see. It’s not necessarily a fulfillment of that or whom for which we are searching. It is an invitation to come and see what is there, come and see what is offered, come and see what you were not expecting.

 

For generations, God’s people waited for the Messiah. They waited for a Savior. What is that? What is that which saves you? Who is that above all others who gives you what you need? And they imagined a king, a monarch, one who was the leader of the world. They imagined one who would lead them to victory. They imagined one who would land them on top of the heap of the world. And then they got this baby in a manger. What is that about? This wasn’t what we planned.

 

Are we really any different? What is that that you imagine will save you? Who is that who above all others gives you what you need? Who do you imagine? For whom are you waiting? Maybe the whole point is that we, like those generations so long ago, are so sure of who the Messiah is that we miss the Messiah, we miss the Presence of God that shows up in places that we did not think it belonged. The question, “why were you searching for me?” remains. Is it to save you? Is it to fix your life? Is it to affirm that the life you’ve created is the way it should be? Is it to land you on top of the heap of the world? Or are you truly searching for that which brings Truth and Grace? Are we searching for One who will enter our life? Or are we searching for a Life that will lead us to God?

 

The baby in a manger wasn’t what anyone was expecting. Who would’ve imagined that God would enter this world through a feed trough? Maybe if we would open ourselves to the possibility, or even the probability, that God comes in ways we do not plan, in ways that we do not expect, and even through those that we do not think are “of God”, then we will be able to open ourselves to whatever way God comes. So, why are you searching for me? Don’t you know I’m here with you now, in every step, in every way? Don’t you know where I am? I am here. Just open yourselves to the notion that I’m not what you planned, that I don’t fit into to this world, and that I’m calling you to change your life and change your ways so that you will know who I am.

 

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find. (Ann Patchett)

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli