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4th Sunday in Advent -- We Too are Invited to House the Holy

The Message So many closed doors. Oh I’m sorry. It just that it’s been a long journey.  My friends and I have found so many closed doors. We are Magi, the learned and we all come from families of means. We began this journey because we saw in the stars a prediction of a holy King’s birth. God created this earth and all the societies in it so we thought it would be more of the same. But as we traveled we saw the hardships, the starvation, and the oppression of so many people. This can’t be what God intends! I hope. No! I pray that this new king will bring changes to the world.  Change that mean we who have so much will have to live simply so that others can simply live. The stars prompted this journey but it is love that brings me to this door. To open it, is to open my life to this new kind of King. To open it means being open to changing myself and world in which I live. I’m not sure I know how. But once thing is true my answers are not in the stars. I sense the answer is behind this door. I pray I have the love to open it.  

Two weeks ago, a gathering was held by the Christian community in Bethlehem to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season. Members of each Christian church in the area joined in worship and festivities for what has become an important annual tradition.  A video was also shown which featured Christians from around the country talking about the coming of Jesus and what it means to them. And that phrase, so simple yet poignant, got me thinking…. If we were part of that video, what would we say?  What does the coming of Jesus mean to you? To US?  To our community?   

This Advent we have been gathering around the theme of The Inn:  Housing the Holy and while Mary and Bethlehem were indeed the first to literally house The Holy One of God, we too are invited to house the Holy and make known the Advent, the incarnation of God in our lives and our homes, our community.  We are to be like our Magi this morning who shares about his journey as he approached the door to the Inn.  He saw hardships, starvation and oppression and cried out THIS IS NOT WHAT GOD INTENDS!   He too didn’t know the consequences of opening the door and prayed that he would have the love to open it…. Well, he did open it!  All of the Magi walked through the Door and worshipped Jesus, God in flesh, born of a young woman named Mary in the small town of Bethlehem, from one of the little clans of Judah as Micah prophesized.  From a person and place of little power and prestige came the Christ child, the Holy One, who flung AND FLINGS open every door inviting us to come inside, encounter LOVE, Jesus, as we live a life of faith. 

So, let’s imagine walking through the door of The Inn…. The door opens up the space for us to see what God is doing, out of LOVE for us and all creation!  Once inside we gaze out the window and what do we see?  What is the view from that room?  We are invited to glimpse, no, to really SEE what God intends now and in the completion of this age when Christ returns.  But it might be hard to see….  We might need to stand on our tippy toes as someone said.  This week Paul and I took our Granddaughter Margot to the Denver Zoo.  This little girl spent a lot of time trying to see all that was behind the walls and fences…she needed to stand on her tippy toes and at times needed a boost from Pappy in order to see.   What are the walls that prevent us from seeing God’s love of all that is manifested in Jesus, this Kingdom of God way of LIFE that Jesus ushered in, right now on earth FOR ALL?  Do we need a boost? Or who are we needing to give a boost??  So, all can see THE vision—God’s reign on earth, God’s ways of living as kingdom people, as people of Divine Love?   

The prophet Micah opened the door, said yes to the invitation to live with the divine story, and spoke about one who is from ancient days who shall stand and feed his flock, be great to the ends of the earth and be one of peace.  The prophet Mary said yes in a very big way!  Opened the door despite not having a clue what her act of faith would mean…. The gift the angel promised came to fruition indeed but before then, she received the news and burst forth in song!  She said yes to God, to housing the Holy, and opened the door. Full of love for the Lord, she sang about the good news:  mercy for the faithful, strength for the weak, honor for the shamed, food for the hungry, help for those who trusted God.  She shares promises and delivers transformative NEWNESS that brokenhearted people need.  God has indeed remembered his promises and yet her proclamation is one that shares a different understanding of what the incarnation means, will do.  Were the people of her day expecting a Messiah like she sang about?  It’s salvation by reversal!  It’s Gods ways, it’s the kingdom of God here on earth---not the worlds ways!  Would WE lift up the lowly and bring down the proud and powerful?  But that is the good news Mary brings!! 

This news wasn’t then and still isn’t greeted by everyone with hearts bursting forth in song.  Martin Luther when he translated the bible into German, left Mary’s song in Latin because the German princes didn’t like its implications!  Similarly, when it was translated into English in England, Mary’s and all of the songs were left in Latin because the Royals didn’t like the news that the powerful would be brought low….  Is this indeed good news?  It is!  But only if you see the world with God’s eyes!  Are you walking through the door, looking through the window and seeing the vision that God shares through Micah and Mary?  Prophets are those who believe God’s story so do you join all the prophets in believing?  

God IN LOVE, has come and is coming.  This is great news!  Burst forth in song!  I get to burst forth each week with the good news.  Like Mary, I cannot keep quiet!  But you don’t have to be a preacher or Mary to sing your heart out!  We all are brought to the door, invited to open it and step inside.  See, hear all that God has done and is doing!! And then how can you keep from singing about all that God is doing on earth in Jesus?? 

You can’t!  A Lutheran pastor shared a story of a childhood memory of singing on Christmas Eve…. Austrian and with his father away at war during the Nazi occupation, his mother gathered him and his 7 siblings to read about Mary giving birth to Jesus.  As she read they could hear the soldiers outside their windows, patrolling and enforcing the orders that forbid religious celebrations.  But when his mother had finished reading the youngest sister asked “Mama, aren’t we going to sing?”  to which she answered “OF COURSE!  Tonight, we celebrate coming of the Christ Child into our world!”  So, they gathered around the piano and sang JOY TO THE WORLD.  Soon footsteps were in their stairway so they launched into Hark the Herald Angels Sing!  To their great delight, miraculously when the soldiers appeared at their door, they didn’t arrest them but joined in singing!   

Sing a song that magnifies God!  Like Mary, we have received great news! Sing with gusto!  God has given us a vision of the world—Love for all.  A better world for all!  Do we trust God’s story?  Do we believe God is fulfilling God’s promises?  Mary did.  Micah did.  We can too!  

Like this morning’s Magi, our journey brings us to the door of faith every day.  We too see the world around us and cry “It can’t be what God intends!”  It is not.  So, open the door:  to life, to the kingdom of God life!  Burst forth in song!!  Say YES to God!  LOVE BOLDLY.  For the Christ Child is coming! To Bethlehem and the entire world.  And it changes EVERYTHING!  AMEN.