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The Nativity of Our Lord

The Nativity of Our Lord according to St. Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-20 Authorized (King James) Version

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came …

Time's Up?

It's 10:20 on the morning of Christmas Eve and, frankly, it feel's like time's up.  Our rota of services begins in just a few hours and I can't say I'm ready.  Oh, don't worry, the bulletins are ready and the sermon has been prepared but I'm not yet prepared for the arrival of the Christ child.  Then again I never am.  And you know what?  It doesn't matter.  He's still coming.  And though my soul may still be wandering and my heart might be perplexed, Almighty God will still love me, save me, forgive me, no matter the hour, no matter the day.

Are You Ready?

Honestly, are you ready for the Fourth Sunday of Advent? What, you're focused on Christmas and haven't been paying attention? Sigh.  I suspect there's a lot of this going around, including in many pulpits today.  Understandably we're excited by the imminent birth of Jesus but we shouldn't rush things.  Every moment of our lives is fashioned by God and should be treasured, even those where we have to wait.
Tomorrow will be chock full of excitement.  Today, let's take advantage of this last moment of quiet.  Let's pray, let's reflect and get ready.

Last Minute

A lot of people are going to be scrambling around today, trying to get presents and make ready for guests.  Christmas is just a couple of days from now and time is running out.  But why are we running around, doing things at the last minute?  Jesus isn't really going to be born on Monday evening.  He isn't coming.   He's already been and gone and, our faith tells us, coming again at a time of his own choosing.  Our deadlines really don't matter to God, the Holy Spirit takes no note of them.
I won't tell you to sit back and be quiet today (though you should), but I would ask you to remember that Jesus loves you even if that card arrives late or you don't have all of the gifts you wanted.  There's always Christmas 2019 ...

Winter

The Winter Solstice falls today.  With the shortest day before us, the darkness will fall early and linger longer.  Winter will be felt by many, some in their bodies, others in their souls.  During Advent, we recognize this fact as we prepare for a new reality grounded in God's love.  To someone without food or shelter, or love or friendship, that can seem like a grand, but empty, promise.  You can help make this coming change real for others.  By sharing food or an open hand, you can reflect the hospitality that is so often in short supply, but is so, so needed.

Perspective

I've said it before and so have others: a lot of life depends on your perspective, who you choose to see things.  Is the glass half full or half empty?  Circumstances help to dictate our choice, but it is ultimately a choice.  Advent is a time to reflect on the coming of Jesus into our lives, to ask what his presence means, whether we see him as a gift or an inconvenience.  To paraphrase a popular TV saying, Jesus is coming.
There's not much time.  We need to prepare ourselves for his arrival.  And that includes whether we will welcome him with joy or resentment, the way of God's grace or this fallen world.

Crazytown

In case you haven't noticed, the weather, at least here in New England, has been, well, crazy this winter.  Cold snaps followed by warming, snow, then rain and back again.  Today it started out in the teens and by Friday it's supposed to be in the 50s.  What's going on?  Who knows.  Climate change, polar vortex, New England being New England, something we don't yet understand - they're all viable explanations for why we live in the winter wonderland that might also be called  Crazytown.  All I can do is be prepared. Salt the ice on the walk, have a scraper in the car, you know the drill.  I'll try to be prepared.
Advent has been like this, too.  We know what's supposed to happen but for each of us there have been surprises large and small, joyful or sad.  We're able to deal with the roller coaster of life by grounding ourselves in prayer, by taking time to reflect on what it all means.  Winter and Advent will both end, bringing new season…