A Sunday reflection.
The lectionary readings – and the prayer (collect) for the Fourth Sunday in Advent are here.
I first began posting the Sunday prayer from the Book of Common Prayer each week way back in seminary. For each Sunday of the church year there is a prayer designated to fit the theme of the scripture readings and season. And although the language may sometime sound a bit archaic (y’all know how strongly I feel about the ‘language of the people’ thing), the prayers have always spoken deeply to my soul. And, I’m going to get brave and say, I think they speak to many of you as well. Through the years, I’ve skipped posted a week here and there for various reasons and some of you have asked where the prayer is. As I started this blog, I transitioned the weekly post from my personal page to the graphic for my weekly sermon or Sunday reflection post. Today’s prayer is all about this season of Advent and weaves beautifully with the picture of Mary and Elizabeth we are given.
The gospel reading for today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, is about Mary and Elizabeth rejoicing together because of how God has invited them into The Story. In spite of the dangers and obstacles, even with the fear and trepidation they are feeling, these two courageous and holy women know they are part of something extraordinary and joyfully step into God’s kingdom on earth as it heaven. They have prepared themselves for God’s presence.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from the Book of Common Prayer
That’s what the season of Advent is all about: preparing ourselves for the abiding presence of God with us. And yet, there is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy of God, we can only be willing to be transformed by God’s presence. We don’t make it happen, we answer the invitation, just as Mary and Elizabeth did.
I’ve had some wonderful conversations with some of the folks at my parish lately about God waiting for us. We are reading a book in which the author tells the story of realizing that whether or not she showed up to spend intentional time with Jesus every day, that Jesus was always waiting for her. With each day, with each moment, we have the choice to respond to God. God is always with us, whether we are aware of The Presence or not. And if/when we say to God, “I’ll fit you in when I have time” God waits.
God’s greatest desire is to be with us, beloved children. We discover the joy of Mary and Elizabeth when we, too, step into God’s Kingdom, following Jesus on earth as in heaven, opening ourselves up to be prepared, by abiding in God’s presence now, for the face-to-face presence in the time to come. Emmanuel.