Dec 19 2012

Advent reflection: Christmas on the practical, everyday level

Father Mark LaneEvery Wednesday during the Advent season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey through Advent. This weekís reflection is offered by Father Mark Lane, CFCA preacher.

“Ö Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

When my oldest sister was expecting her first child, I called her close to the end of her last trimester because I had just eaten something that had given me such a pain in the stomach, and I was feeling a deeper sympathy for her situation.

My brother-in-law answered the phone to say she had gone into labor.

Human birth is as old as humanity and fresh as every new generation. The popular appeal of Christmas is because it speaks to deep and abiding human realities.

In the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Luke’s intent in the first chapter of his Gospel is seriously theological, but it is wrapped in a tender humanity that touches even the hardest of hearts.

What could be more ordinary than this beguilingly domestic narrative: two cousins sharing the joy and apprehension of unexpected pregnancies?

It is hard not to feel the very human mix of anxiety and hope.

The theological enormity of Mary’s simple “yes” has yet to be fully revealed in this early section of Luke’s Gospel.

Human history has been unable to resist the romantic domesticity of the birth of Jesus.

I have spent some time in the remote north of Kenya in a province called Turkana.

As in Christian tradition where Joseph was a mature man and Mary a young maiden, men in Turkana are often at the end of their working lives, about 33, and the girls about 16, and at the beginning of a long life of domestic responsibility.

As in many places in the world, a young woman’s life moves from her own childhood to motherhood very quickly.

CFCA awareness trips

CFCA sponsor Charlotte (right) hugs her sponsored friend, Nidia, from El Salvador.

Tradition suggests Mary’s circumstances, on the most human level, are a no-less- demanding and life-altering “YES” to God’s improbable will.

Surely it is her very ordinary acceptance of God’s will that best illuminates her extraordinariness?

No one should say yes to violence, abuse or oppression, but all of us ó be we young women in Turkana, two anxious cousins in Galilee or a nervous uncle ó are called to answer “yes” at times to uncertain outcomes, even perhaps in dangerous settings.

This is Christmas on the practical, everyday level:
To say “yes” to relationships when we are unsure of the return.
To find courage when our fear is great.
To believe in goodness when the evidence is thin.
To speak up when we would rather stay neutral and presumably safe.
To give up our agenda for someone in need.
To open our hearts and our resources when we are tempted to cuddle our own desires.
To work for the oppressed, marginalized, abused.

After all God was in fact born of a simple maiden in Galilee in rather humble circumstances in the historical Christmas, and he will be born so again and again.

Related links:
Awakening our hearts to love [1st Advent reflection]
‘For it is in giving that we receive’ [2nd Advent reflection]
‘God dwells within the human family’ [3rd Advent reflection]

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