Elizabeth L. Windsor, DMin. The Fourth Sunday of Advent December 20, 2020 Luke 1: 46-55
Love Has Chosen Us
Christmas is almost here. The light in the darkness grows each week, as we add a candle to our wreaths. We have lighted - in order - the candles of hope, peace and joy. Today we light the fourth candle, the candle of love, knowing that the full light of life will return with the birth of Jesus.
This particular Advent season, we have focused our attention on the Magnificat, Mary’s song, in response to God’s call to bear Jesus into our world. As Rev. Rick has been preaching these past 3 Sundays, her song is rich with praise, prophecy, and blessing. She claims the promises of God’s presence in the lives of those who have come before her, in her life and the life of the child she carries, and in the lives of those who will follow her. Mary sings that she has been chosen by God’s love to bear love.
She has been chosen by God’s love to bear love . . . and so have we. In this strange and difficult Advent and Christmas season, when we are missing loved ones as well as beloved sacred and secular traditions, while we wait and wait and wait some more for the curve to flatten and the vaccines’ to be delivered, while our friends and neighbors and those whom we do not know struggle to pay their rent and keep food on the table, we are STILL chosen by love to bear love. It may not feel that way as we grieve the losses of this year, but that does not change the truth: we are chosen by God’s love to bear love.
Like your families, my family is anxious, worried and afraid. Both my husband and I long to be able to hug the parents we have living. We are continually worried for their safety, keeping ourselves away from them in the hope we can protect them. We miss our grown children in households of their own whom we have not seen other than via Zoom or Face Time in almost a year. My son at home misses his brothers and mourns the loss of a college year without being physically present with friends and professors. And yet, we are among the blessed. Our house is warm and we are not likely to lose it, we all have work, our extended family is for the most part, healthy. We remind each other daily that we are so fortunate and that we really shouldn’t complain, still so much seems lost. I imagine that many of you are experiencing much the same and those feelings make it harder for us to remember that we are chosen by love to bear love.
This Advent, I have been practicing the discipline of remembering love. And not just remembering, but naming in a journal all the ways in which love has chosen me and formed me to bear love. Growing up, the Church was central to our family life. And at this time of year, it was especially important. December was the month my Mom and I were responsible for the altar. We set up communion, changed hangings and hung greens. We also spent many a Christmas Eve day washing and ironing choir and acolyte robes. It still feels strange all these years later not to have the ironing board set up in the kitchen while one of us starched choir surplices and the other took robes out of the dryer with carols playing in the background. Then there was a Christmas Eve where I had sewed new choir robes and collars. I had injured a hand and was unable to turn the collar points. I was frustrated and tearful until my Dad faithfully came to the rescue. I will never hear “And there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” - the beginning of the Christmas story in Luke 2 - in any voice but my Dad’s. He always read it out loud to us after Church on Christmas Eve.
These are just small vignettes of love poured into my life. I keep them in my heart and always will. I know that the love of God and family my parents poured into me are a rich gift that continues to bear love in my life. Like Mary’s remembering the promises God made to Abraham and his descendants, my parents poured out the love that had been poured into them. And as I cut out Christmas cookies with my now 21 year-old son, I am confident the love that has chosen me is choosing him too.
My “song” is not unique - I know that you, too, have been chosen by the love that has been poured into you and that you continue to bear that love for others known and unknown in your life. NOTHING can deny this Advent truth, neither political unrest, nor virus, nor tough economic times, nor even death. Take comfort from the words we used to light the Advent wreath this morning, “We are each collections of all the love people have chosen for us along our journey. Coursing through our veins is the same courage that inspired each of those choices. Every time and every way that we choose love for ourselves and one another, we honor that inheritance.”
No matter how far we are from those who have loved us into life - whether by social distance or death or other tragedies, the love poured into us remains with us. We are still chosen to pour that love into the lives of others. Claim that love. Honor that love. Rely on that love. Sing that love into the world. The paradox of the Advent season is that God’s love is already here in our darkness – and yet, it still is coming in the growing light that bursts into full flame at Christmas. “People look east and sing today: love the Lord is on the way.” Thanks be to God. Amen.