Notes from Along the Way | Christmas Message 2023
December 22, 2023
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a village in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin vitro to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. Luke 1:26.
It is an interesting detail that Luke has to tell us with such specificity where Mary was because it was a nowhere, a place where important things did not happen. If the angel went to Jerusalem, Rome, or some other capital of the world, the narrator would just say the name and move on, but Luke has to get granular because Jesus is from a nowhere place. Joseph's family was important, but that was so long ago. The prophecies that people clung to were dormant, quiet hopes in a time of captivity; the land had been occupied for so long.
Now, often, God comes quietly to his people. He comes in the side door to a girl in a village in the hills. God is outside the space-time matter continuum. God is outside our ability to fully understand, and so God is not constrained to show up in the ways that we expect, even with 1000s of years of stories, writings, and prophecy, to guide our watching eyes and listening ears.
The Lord God is a creative God, for God can show up any way that God wants. And so often, God comes to his people, in little villages and quiet places, in unexpected ways, to those that did not expect to call. So in this moment of our waiting and listening, as we remember those moments of waiting and watching from 2000 years ago, remember the Advent cry of the church: stay awake, keep watch, for God is coming in. It may very well be in a way we will not guess wherever you are. In whatever time of your life, God's Messenger may show up and call you to something remarkable.
Oh, Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Let me play Gabriel for a moment, especially if you feel like you're getting close to being a nobody from nowhere. God has noticed you. God knows you. And God loves you. He knows the numbers of the hairs on your head and holds you have great value. And so you have to be ready for the voice may come in your life may change in a moment. For Christmas is the time when Mary and Joseph said yes to God; let it be the time that you say yes.
Have your voice be ready. Have your ears listening and your eyes watching. For the room to flare and the word to come. God wants you to join his son Jesus and the wonderful work of recreation. So whether you have served faithfully these many years are just beginning to come to yourself in a strange place in a strange time in life. Come and join us. Join us as we celebrate Christmas in every corner of the Diocese. Pray for the Spirit to speak in the deepest quietest part of you, the call you to the amazing life of love, in his name. And then say yes, yes to life. Yes, yes to the vows of baptism and the Welcome to the altar table; say yes to the call to service and the abundant life of grace. Yes, to forgiveness and to letting your heart and mind be changed. Say yes to God this Christmas.
Like Mary and like Joseph in that little town in Galilee of Nazareth. So long ago. Say Yes to the coming of the Prince of Peace. Let us work together with friends and family around the world. In our little villages in grade capitals, and Newberry and Ford mill in Galilee and Gaza and Kyiv, let us work for peace in Jerusalem and Columbia, in Greenville. And we will join the throng of angels and saints around the throne and heaven and that great song that rings with hope for a new dawn. After the long nights, the long years of waiting and watching.
Have your voice be ready. Have your ears listening in your eyes watching. For the room to flare and the word to come. Let us not grow weary but be a people of hope. And the people who say yes to the ancient promises and to the new call for God is coming even now. The angels inhale may turn to speech in a moment and call you so you must be ready for Christmas is coming.
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