Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

21st December 2014

First Reading:
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Second Reading:
Romans 16.25-27
Luke 1.26-38

Our Advent series , which we'll finish tomorrow, invites us to explore Advent in the new universe story. Looked at this way the Nativity narratives are about the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation. However, the birth of the Christ is God's love made manifest with the birth of the universe. During our Advent retreat we looked at the holy disturbances God placed in the lives of the scriptural characters we encounter in the Christmas story. Today's first reading and Gospel emphasize the theme of God's Presence throughout the holy disturbances God places in people's lives as well as how God is present in the new universe story. 
First let's look at God's holy disturbances. The first reading refers to how God transformed David from a simple shepherd boy into a King of Israel. God is there for David throughout each stage of this sometimes painful transformation. God doesn't even abandon David when he repeatedly transgresses but sends his prophet to nudge David to return to the right path. Like us, David is not always open to what God or his prophets have to say. Even when we ignore what God is trying to tell us, God's is present. But because we are closed we may not understand God's promises to us, which are always kept but not always in the way that David or we can understand. For example, David's legacy is not an earthly dynasty.

Mary believes Gabriel when he says, “the child to be born will be holy.” But she must have been wondering, holy or not, this is going to mean trouble for her, trouble with her betrothed, with her parents, with her community. She is aware that what God is asking of her is not going to be easy. Although she is young, Mary is a practical woman, she only asks one question, “How can this be?” Once the technicalities have been explained, that nothing is impossible with God, and, she is told of the equally impossible pregancy of her kinswoman, Elizabeth, Mary is open to what God is asking of her.

We know that Mary's life had sorrows that are almost too much to bear. But we know that God was and is with her, and she is with us as her miraculous appearances attest. We also know that with the birth of Jesus, the Incarnate Christ, God's presence became immanent. Human beings were able to see and touch and feel God's love made manifest.

We are not alone in our pains and sorrows, just as we are not alone in our joys. Just as God was with David and Mary in their times of trial as well as triumph, so Christ is with us—always. God instructs his prophet Nathan to tell David, “I have been with you wherever you went.” Likewise, the Angel Gabriel tells the overwhelmed young Mary, “The Lord is with you.” This Presence, Christ Sophia that became manifest at the moment of Creation is what some call the Cosmic Christ and is God-with-Us-Always. This is the Christ of the prologue of John's Gospel. This is the Wisdom or Sophia of Proverbs 8, who says, "YHWH gave birth to me at the beginning, before the first acts of creation....” The is the Christ Sophia who Proverbs 8 also tells us, rejoices in the whole world and delights in humankind. 
Christ is God's love made manifest. Jesus is human, the Incarnate Christ; and, Jesus is divine, the Cosmic Christ. Just to keep it Trinitarian, I suggest the Holy Spirit is the voice of God conducting the music of our hearts.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus, the Incarnate Christ. The Hebrew Scriptures, New Testament, and the whole of creation tell of and are permeated with the Cosmic Christ. The Cosmic Christ is constantly being born and nurtured with each act of love and communion/community. Like the universe, the Cosmic Christ is expanding, expanding through people trying to live the Gospel in the imitation of Jesus, the Incarnate Christ. What I am trying to describe is not how the different pieces fit. Rather, it is that everything, all that is, belongs to One Reality: All-that-is, is infused with and reflects God. 
This is a brief summary of my reflections on themes we have explored together this Advent. Nothing I have said here is dogma. It is but one person's way to conceptualize the humanly unconceivable, to describe what is beyond our language and ability to describe. 
I hope most of you have had the opportunity to set aside time for yourselves to reflect a bit on the Advent season or, at least, the opportunity to slow down from the hectic demands on your time the season brings.

Take a moment now to reflect on some of your own thoughts or insights this Advent. When you're ready, please share one or two of your insights?

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