Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just Breathe: Year B, Advent 3

Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (detail) .
Pontormo, Jacopo da, 1494-1556
This Week's Lectionary Texts:
Isaiah 61:1-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:47-55 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 
John 1:6-8, 19-28

This Week's Reflection:
Advent seems to go by so quickly compared to other seasons of the Church - like Lent, for example. Four short weeks and then we are into Christmas. Not much time to get ready for the most important birth in history!

In the first week of Advent, the lectionary texts reminded us that we are sinful people and that we really need a Savior to come. In the second week of Advent, we were provided the hope we need as John shouted out to us that that Savior is on his way - without him there is no hope, with him there is no need for hopelessness. Now, we continue our journey along the Advent Road and arrive at what seems like a traffic jam. It isn't one of those traffic jams that makes you want to lose your temper, though. It is more like the rare moments when you are rushing from one place to the next and suddenly have to stop. Beyond all your own control, you get to take a few deep breaths and trust that pausing for a bit will be okay.

330 by Melissa Bridgman
There is no hope because of sin. But wait, Hope is on his way. Now, sit with that message for a while. Savor it. Decorate the tree, put up the lights, take time to write special notes in those Christmas cards. Time is passing by too quickly and we are called to stop, to pause, to breathe in the reality that the Savior is coming. Soon enough labor will begin and everything will speed up again. For now, may we rest in the knowledge that "the Lord has sent good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners" (Isaiah). Let us pause with John to revel in the fact that "he came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him" (John). Let us sing with Mary (Luke) and the Psalmist. Let us sing praises always and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians).

Savor this week. May our congregations be led to savor it too. Too often we want to skip to the birth, but the anticipation of this great event is too wonderful to miss by running too quickly through Advent.

"Breath of Heaven," help us to pause long enough to breathe You in as deeply as possible.