December 20, 2021
Scenic South District
Colossians 1: 15-20 NIV15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
DevotionHere we are together on December 20, the apex of Advent. Everything in my life is at a fever pitch right now, isn’t yours? What gifts have yet to arrive? Check the list. Who is coming when and where am I to go, taking what dish and which packages? What is happening with the Omicron Variant and what effect should that have on travel and decision making for the safety of all? If you are a part of a faith community, perhaps you have just had your Christmas program of one sort or another, people glad to celebrate together, if more simply, after a Christmas with Zoom concerts last year. Soon, soon, the hush and velvet beauty of Christmas Eve will fall and we will be in the presence of the Christ Child. Savor these last few days of this season of anticipation. Take quiet moments by your tree, walking in the neighborhood seeing the lights, breathing the cold air, looking at the stars.
If Lent is the season of introspection and repentance, Advent is its brighter sister, the season of anticipation and preparation. This infant Christ, so desperately fragile, into whom God was pleased to appear as verse 19 tells us, was entrusted to us. We were not very reliable caregivers then, and yet we still are not. Whether Baby Jesus is a joyful image of Baby Jesus in the Golden diaper or a bittersweet, still small child in the manger to you, to Creation that baby becomes everything. Everything we never knew we needed. We read a few weeks ago about the Benedictus, the prophecy that God gave Zechariah at the birth of his son, John. The question of what Zechariah knew or suspected about the travail his son would face lingers with me, perhaps with you as well. And God, fulfilling the Messianic prophecies with the birth of Jesus…. oh the road that Man/God will follow-obedient, and wise. How badly did it hurt God’s heart to see those necessary deeds unfold? In v 20, we read,” through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Can we face what that means in the light of the Star of Bethlehem? Jesus is firstborn among the dead, we read. What does that mean? Jesus raised Godself. Unlike Lazarus or Jarius’ daughter, whom Jesus raised before the crucifixion, (to show us what was possible), no one did this for Jesus. It was Godly power to overcome death: the hope of our life beyond this one is realized through this baby, who died and rose for us all. The Message version of this scripture gives us a wonderful image of justice for all, “ So spacious is he, so expansive, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.” There is a Big Table in the world that belief in God/Jesus/HolySpirit offers us, one that has room for us all, in our proper place-without crowding. How we are to live here, not just in the next life, I propose. “Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done, on Earth, here, as it is in Heaven.”
Creation came to us, made us, succors us, through Jesus. Jesus is the head of the church, of the Body that we kick about like an old pine cone. None of us is head of the church… chair of the trustees, the finance chair, the pastor… it is Christ’s church, the Messiah’s body on Earth. What are we about, today, church? Where are we going? Let us end with this beautiful image from Fr. Carlo Caretto, from his stellar book, The God Who Comes, “The best metaphor for our world today is astronauts speeding through the cosmos, but with their life-supporting capsule pierced by a meteorite fragment. But the Church resembles Mary and Joseph traveling from Egypt to Nazareth on a donkey, holding in their arms the weakness and poverty of the Child Jesus: God incarnate.”
PrayerHoly God/Jesus/HolySpirit, you are our hope, our redeemer. Your presence on Earth, your sacrifices for us all, those who know and love you and those who look away, will one day culminate in the ultimate Advent, your Return. Let us always remember that though we prepare for the infant Jesus as we set up our creches and sing carols, our true role is to prepare for your return. Coming in power and might and majesty, not humble and tiny, but on a cloud of glory. Let us fill our lamps, trim our wicks, and be awake.
It has been a great joy to write and share with you in this space, and I pray for all of Holston, and our readers everywhere, as we follow our new Episcopal leader on a journey through the scriptures in 2022. Thank you for this blessing we have shared together. Susan