Micah 5:1-4a; Psalm 80 Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
I recently read an article about how Christmas has changed.
When we are young, christmas is about gifts beneath the tree. These presents are tokens of love and care wrapped in glistening outter wear. The time is filled with excitement and enthusiasm and great expectation which comes to a head very quickly and in an instant it is gone.
I find myself a bit nostalgia for those days. To be young again to look upon Christmas with that same devotion and joyful enthusiasm, however, is not what is asked of us.
Christmas has become gift bags and cards. I love them and find myself grateful with every card and gift bag that comes my way. I am blessed beyond measure, for sure.
But now a days we are all grown up. Most of the folks my age are dealing with morgages on their homes or car payments or baffled by the economy and their 401K/ retirement. Then there are doctor bills and increasing cost of providing for a family and maintaining a family. Anxiety is the rue by which life is brewed.
Busyness. We are all busy. Smartphones and tech-time has replaced conversations and visits face to face. Netflix and video on demand has made us all isolated and distant. No man is island but we have become just that. Multitasking is the norm. It isn't only expected but demanded.
This last week of Advent what if we shifted our focus from buying these last minute presents to being present? What if we stopped all this fuss over gifts and focused on presence, being attentive in a real and spiritual way to the unfolding of life?
Presence before presents! Giving of our selves before gifts from ourselves!
What then would become our life?
Instead of adding more stuff to life, what if we conversed and actually stopped long enough to look each other in the eye. What if we actually got in touch with one another for a change rather than this drive by mentality that has swept us off our feet where social networking is the only frame of mind?
What if we powered down when we were with our family? No more iPhones when at the dinner table. No more texting and eating. For me, no more texting and praying.
What if we actually prayed in real ways not just pretend or fly by the seat of pants. Too often we limit prayer to what we can get in between home and work or between this and that. We try to fit its in without actually changing anything. Not only are we juggling life we juggle prayer as well and we become what we juggle.
What if we did what the letter of Hebrews reminds us what Jesus does: by this "will" we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Jesus made his body a prayer and offering. What if we made our cooking our prayer an offering to God for our family? What if we made our decorating and cleaning an offering for consecration of our family to the glory of God? Prayer isn't just words it is a life we live where it matters. What matters to us is what matters to God and He wants to be part of it.
Think about our gospel today. We have two pregnant women who have set aside their agendas and their busyness to be with one another, to console each other, to share their stories, and to give each other the gift of their presence, the gift of their very selves. They set aside their personal agendas and busy work and just are with each other: be still and know that I am God.
In this beautiful exchange there is honor and veneration and holiness that envelopes them. Mostly though there is joy that radiates from these two who have listened to the word of God and welcomed it into their daily lives. The word of God has found a home in them and having grown it nows becomes a source of joy immense.
Unlike us, as the scripture proclaims, "all to full is our soul with the world" these two ladies have created space for God's word to dwell and what it produces is timeless.
Think about how Mary responds to the gift of the Spirit and the new life in her, she goes with haste. Mary does not delay. There is no procrastination. She moves forward and outward. What about us? How much have we left undone because of lame excuses? How have we refused to move forward and outward but instead remain inward and back ward? What holds us back? What keeps us from living the path the Spirit has opened wide for us: forward and outward so that joy can be multiplied and God be magnified?
Presence verse presents!