Scripture for Sunday, December 15, 2019

Isaiah 40:3-5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Luke 1:26-38 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading

—From Pastor Pam

 What do we seek at Christmas? What are our expectations?

The Season of Advent is a time we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the moment God appeared as a baby who would change the world. How we celebrate this can span a range of events and activities, worship services and list after list. This can also be a time of worry, fatigue, sadness and loneliness. We can feel disconnected.

But what if we began thinking about the season as a time to be in loving and joyful connection with one another?

In the Wesleyan Devotional “Almost Christmas,” April Casperson writes that the season brings a “multitude of opportunities to move from the almost to the altogether.” Casperson considers ways for us to journey beyond being “almost Christians” celebrating an “almost Christmas” to “Altogether Christians” celebrating an “Altogether Christmas.” What if we sought loving connection over all else?

In Isaiah 40:5, God’s revelation is a community experience. “…and all the people shall see it together,” Isaiah prophesies. Luke 1 tells us Mary was told she would bear that life-changing son whose community would consist of an eternal kingdom. We know that baby would grow up to teach the power of love as the heart of it all. Christ’s community is people in connection with one another fused by “altogether love.”

While Advent can sometimes be a dark wilderness, may we find ways to find the loving light of the world in time together.

Peace and Grace,

Pastor Pam