Father may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word Jesus Christ our Lord.
Everything feels a little bleak. Yesterday’s news has affected so many people. When I look on my social media I see so many voices crying out in hurt and pain. Many feel there is nothing left of Christmas. Yet here we stand on the fourth Sunday of Advent looking towards the crib and the stable where Jesus was born and laid.
When Mary approached the stable after that long journey I doubt she was surprised by the way her son was going to be brought into the world. The message of her pregnancy came with a promise, “that nothing was impossible with God” and we hear those words spoken by Angel Gabriel in the gospel today.
It is in the darkness where we are reminded of the deep body shaking promise of God. The labour if you like of our own embodiment of Jesus inside of us.
Mary had to empty herself of her self to make room for God to work, for the Holy Spirit to come upon her and fill her. Mary’s yes changed the world, heaven and earth kissed on the night of Jesus’ birth with the lips of a new mother on her warm newborn son.
The wood in the crib through her yes turns into the wood of the cross, the deeply linked joy and sorrow that is the Christian life, the life that Jesus walked on earth, instructing his disciples to leave their own wants and needs and to follow him because he will fill them with everything they will ever need.
Mary understood this from the very beginning. She raised Jesus in the scriptures, she taught him to walk, talk, eat, all things a mother does. And in those final steps towards the stable like we are doing right now, she held on tight to the promise spoke by angelic voice, for nothing is impossible with God.
This emptying of self by Mary by her yes, is what Jesus did on the cross through his yes, the cost and sacrifice of love, all of us who are feeling that way today,
We are wounded by love.
Mary’s heart was pierced as she saw her son pierced on the cross.
We are all wounded by love in some way.
Today those wounds of saying yes to love become real in the journey towards the stable. Soon the labour pains which give birth to love begin to surge, my own body remembers and aches with the knowledge of childbirth as I think of Mary pacing the stable waiting and listening to her body.
Christmas is coming but not in the excitement of the fairy lights and the family gatherings many know of, but in the sparseness of the stable, in the pain of love, yet all wrapped in the promise of that nothing will be impossible with God, if we hold onto that tightly, soon we will witness the emptying of self, and realise we have room to feel the joy of Christmas, we have made room for Jesus to be born into us this Christmas in a different way.
Mary’s song of hope is what we need right now and I will finish with her words that sing glory and thanks to our God, healing for the wounds of our love.
My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.