Sunday, December 20, Advent 4

December 20, 2015
ADVENT 4
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

All through this Advent season we have been reflecting on our standing with God as we prepare for God.

Some of us may have a rather inflated opinion of our standing.  We read our Bibles every day; we share in worship every week; we give our time and money; we serve on committees.  We….we….we…….

Sometimes, such an emphasis on ‘we’ and on our goodness can shut out the goodness of God as central.

Today the appointed lessons invite us to consider another ‘wee’, as in wee tiny.  When God comes, some people stand before God and feel they are so small.  [cf Isaiah 6.]  Today is affirmation of all such ‘little’ people, at least as they see themselves.  God does not view it that way.

God’s promise through Micah is that the long-awaited Anointed One will come from one of the little clans.  Not from one of the big clans that like to throw their weight around and get their way.

In the Gospel an unknown teenage girl is told she is to bear God’s Promise in a special way.  She is so small.  Her sense of her own ‘wee’-ness contrasts starkly with the big kids who feel they are more worthy and deserving than she.   In response, she does not seek to lift herself up or make herself large.  She shines the light on who is great and instead proclaims, ‘My soul doth magnify the LORD’.

In the ‘hymn/canticle’ attributed to her, she goes on to note that God
 ‘has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
            brought down the powerful from their thrones,
                        and lifted up the lowly;’

As our Scottish friends might say, God is giving a wee nudge of leveling both to those who think they are wee before the LORD and to those who think ‘we’ deserve high standing before the LORD.

Through our actions in these final days of Advent – and in every day – we are called to make God large for the sake of the world God so loves.

For further reflection

On this Fourth and final Sunday of Advent, how do you hear the Good News of God through these texts?

With whom do you feel called to share which aspect of God’s News: who are the ‘wee’ people to be lifted up and who are the mighty to be brought down?

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that binds us, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

LESSONS AND PSALMS
            Micah 5:2-5a
                        Psalm 80:1-7
            Hebrews 10:5-10

            Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

CHILDREN’S SERMON: “Little”
SERMON: The Church School Proclamation of the Christmas Story
 
WORD OF THE WEEK –
From Micah 5
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
            who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
            one who is to rule in Israel
 from Luke 1
46And Mary said,
            "My soul magnifies the Lord

 

FIRST LESSON from Micah 5:2-5a
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
            who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
            one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
            from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
            when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
            to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
            in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
            to the ends of the earth;
5and he shall be the one of peace.

 

SECOND LESSON from Hebrews 10:5-10
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
            "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
                        but a body you have prepared for me;
            6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
                        you have taken no pleasure.
            7Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God'
                        (in the scroll of the book it is written of me)."

8When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, "See, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

[46And Mary said,
            "My soul magnifies the Lord,
                        47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
            48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
                        Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
            49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
                        and holy is his name.
            50His mercy is for those who fear him
                        from generation to generation.
            51He has shown strength with his arm;
                        he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
            52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
                        and lifted up the lowly;
            53he has filled the hungry with good things,
                        and sent the rich away empty.
            54He has helped his servant Israel,
                        in remembrance of his mercy,
            55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
                        to Abraham and to his descendants forever."]