Sunday, December 20, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 11:1-7, 16
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
It’s almost Christmas! Are you ready? Is your tree up? Gifts purchased and wrapped? Menus organized? Are you ready to encounter God in all of it?
I know I’m not the first to say it and I’m sorry for the redundancy but it’s true – Christmas 2020 isn’t like any other Christmas we’ve encountered before because this year hasn’t been anything like what we planned.
And yet here we are in the days leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. How have you prepared to receive God in this crazy, discombobulated year in which we find ourselves?
Through this season of Advent, Fr. Ricardo López and I have been sharing online conversations about the interruptive nature of God’s love in our lives and the readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent illustrate this so beautifully.
King David wanted to build an extravagant temple to honor God and God interrupted his planning. David felt God deserved a better place than a tent. He wanted to show his love for God by honoring God with the best he thought he could offer. And God says no, thank you. God reminds David, through Nathan’s dream, that God now moves among the people, that God is with David and the people wherever they go. God doesn’t want David’s building, God wants David. And promises to make David a great “house” made of people.
Mary, I’m sure, was planning on being an ordinary wife to an ordinary man and become an ordinary mother in the ordinary way, and while all of the ordinariness of our lives is beautiful and holy, God had extraordinary plans for Mary. God interrupted Mary and Joseph’s expectations for their life together.
How do we react and respond when our extravagant plans or even our ordinary routines are interrupted? Do we fight against it or do we look for where God is making order in the chaos?
Both David and Mary respond to God’s interruption with humility and amazement at God’s work through them saying let it be so, do as you have promised. In the interruptions of their plans, their relationship with God grew deeper, they were strengthened and encouraged as they accepted God’s love as God comes to us.
And so, we come to the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, and we face the darkness of this day with the sure and certain hope that the light grows stronger going forward. Together with God and each other we step into this season of Christmas knowing we are God’s beloved children. A light shines in the darkness and nothing can over power it.
This promised hope, this inexhaustible light, this extraordinary love comes to us! We don’t have to make elaborate plans to find it. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy. We don’t have to do anything except receive it! Sometimes, however, we have to let go of whatever it is we are clutching before we can open our hands to receive something new and better.
All four candles of the Advent wreath are lit – hope, peace, joy, and love – the four flames shining together to interrupt the darkness. Let God interrupt your plans and expectation of this season with divine love and let this gift of love shape and transform you so that God’s light shines brighter into this world.
“Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it.” (2 Samuel 7:18-19, 21 NRSV)