Advent reflects the season of hope and anticipation. Face-timing our family in London last Sunday evening my granddaughter, now four years, was chatting away to Judi and I, oblivious of her dad and mum trying to get a word in and unaware of how far away we were, in Australia. Although I am not sure she understood it all, she kept pointing to the tree in the corner and saying that there were not many presents underneath the tree and telling us something was missing in the same way as I suspect children across the world are waiting for St Nicholas or Father Christmas or Santa Claus. Of course, her mum and dad then explained that Santa would probably visit her in Australia. We associate Christmas with happy times, but we know this is not true for millions of people across the globe, and there is the real danger in our own celebrations that we sideline for another time or ignore the plight of the hungry, the homeless, the abused and exploited, by shutting down our senses that distract us from our celebrations that cause us pain or distress.
In today’s Gospel from Luke, we read of Mary, a young Jewish woman pregnant, unmarried, and poor. I wonder what Mary must have been doing at the time, perhaps fetching water, thinking about her forthcoming marriage to Joseph. There is no mention why Mary has been chosen to be the God bearer. This is the point of the narrative. God chooses and Mary does not necessarily deserve to be the mother of Jesus any more than any other woman. This is however a life-changing experience for Mary.
The birth of the Christ child is not simply a sentimental story of a child but also a reminder that this innocent child becomes the one who is crucified for the brokenness of the creation and offers a new way to begin the building of God’s kingdom and our role as partners with God.
Take care during this week that can be hectic and demanding. Take time for quiet prayer and reflection and I look forward to sharing in our Christmas worship and brunch on Sunday and in the days to come. If you are reading this on our website, please join us at 10.00 on Sunday (NOT 11.00 as usual).