Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
I don't know about you, but Christmas is kind of hard this year. Not only is there a lot going on personally, but the world is different. Between mass-shootings and looming war-like conditions, its difficult to remember the peace on earth that Christmas speaks to. Even in the midst of fun, love-filled family gatherings, I go home and watch the news and I am reminded of the difficulty of this season.
But I think that's the point.
As a child and youth, Christmas is full of joy and wonder, and that is needed. We need to remember the magic and the possibility that lies at the center of this day that we celebrate. However, as we recognize how it can be difficult to remember the joy and magic in the midst of a world in chaos, perhaps that is even MORE HELPFUL in drawing us closer to the miracle of Christmas.
Fellow pastor, Michael Bennett, says of Christmas, "emotions run raw, and cultural nostalgia crowds out gospel truth as people look backward, rather than God-ward for inspiration," so perhaps the difficulty of Christmas can remind us to look God-ward?
On Sunday morning we will read passage of scripture sometimes referred to as The Visitation, in which Mary visits Elizabeth, her cousin, upon learning of her own pregnancy from the angel. We read the story of two outcasts sitting on the edge of society, who are the ones that God chose to change the course of the world. A nearly elderly women thought to be barren now carries a child, and an unwed teenager carries another, swearing she has not been with her husband. We will use this opportunity to focus on the true justice and world-changing event that we will celebrate in just a few days.
As Mary celebrates the joy she finds in God using her to birth light into a dark world, we too find light in her words and hope.
ALL are welcome to worship with us at 8:30am and 10:30am on Sunday morning, and again on Christmas Eve at 7:00pm. Join us in bringing forward this hope in the midst of chaos, light in the midst of darkness.