Sunday, 3 April 2022

Don’t look away

 


John 12:1-8

Mary Anoints Jesus

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”


In the Name of God the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer. Amen


This is a story that is recounted in all four gospels.

And I’ve always been annoyed that, in every version, the men in the story, steal the show.

It becomes all about them - rather than about the beautiful gift that a woman gave.

In John’s gospel, we see them suggesting how the cost of this gift might have been better employed in the service of the poor.

And in the other gospels, the men around Jesus question how Jesus can calmly accept the unconventional hospitality this woman shows instead of censuring her.

It becomes about the men - rather than about a woman who spontaneously offered radical love.


When we consider when this encounter happens in Jesus’s timeline:

It happens in a real threshold moment.

A turning point for Jesus.

Just at the time when his ministry is about to change direction.

The authorities - civil and religious were already looking for a way to shut him down.

And then he raises Lazarus from the dead.

Now there is no way he’ll be allowed to continue his disruptive influence.

This anointing happens in that liminal space.

When he’s about the leave the shores of lake Galilee to head to Jerusalem.

Where the cross awaits.

It’s why we read it today, this 5th Sunday in Lent.

Passion Sunday.

The tide is turning for Jesus.

Those who want him gone are closing in.

And he knows it.

He’s been telling his friends, warning them.

But most of them want to bury their heads in the sand, stick their fingers in their ears and pretend that it’s business as usual.

Mary of Bethany has listened.

She’s picked up on all the cues.

She knows that the gift of life for Lazarus, her brother, is the final nail for Jesus.

She knows - this man, whom she loves - his days are numbered.

So she does the most radical thing she can imagine.

She breaks open her expensive ointment and anoints her beloved.

It must have been excruciating and beautiful to watch.

And THAT’S why the men in the room have to divert attention.

They couldn’t bear to watch this overtly public display of affection.

And they they couldn’t square up to the truth that was staring them in the face.

They wanted to believe that life was always going to be one big beach party with Jesus.

Instead of a one way ticket to death on a cross -  for him.

Mary’s radical act confronts these men with something they’d rather avoid, so they look away and make it about something entirely different.


Prophets always make us uncomfortable.

And when we find our discomfort growing, we might ask ourselves why?

What is being stirred up in us?

And, more importantly, how are we being nudged into action?

For our call is to be prophets today.

To respond to the injustice we witness.

To call attention to what really matters in our world - and to keep on recalling others.

Not to be distracted, but to keep on working for justice and protesting against all that gets in the way.

No matter how uncomfortable it makes those around us feel.

We are called, with Mary of Bethany to indulge in spontaneous acts of radical love and hospitality, to be extravagant in whatever way we can to address and confront injustice in all the places we inhabit as prophets today.

May we do all that we are called to with the love, the singularity, the purpose and the conviction of Mary of Bethany.

One radical act of love at a time.



It’s not about the poor

It’s not about the dinner guests 

It’s not about the keeper of the purse

It’s about a woman’s extravagant gift

The costly ointment

The fragrance

The unadulterated love exposed for all to see

And the discomfort of 

witnessing such beauty and truth 

becomes too much to bear

And so the focus is diverted

from a woman’s gift

to the men’s distraction techniques

lest we, too, should be moved

to such radical acts of  love

that are searing to witness

causing those not comfortable in their own skin

to look away

to find distraction

in things that, in this moment,

do not matter.

Our discomfort might be transformed

by looking deeply

at the longings

and the fears

the envy

and the loss

that are stirred up in us

who bear witness

to a pure

and spontaneous love.

Until we too

counter injustice in the world

with acts of radical love.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Still a long way off


Luke 15:1-3; 11-32


Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ ”


In the Name of God the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer Amen


The story of the Prodigal Son is one of those multi-layered stories of Jesus - that every time we read it, we might see something different in it.

We hear lots about the younger son, living it up, falling on hard times and coming to his senses.

I’ve always wondered about whether the younger son really changed - or whether he simply came to know where he was well off.

And we hear much about the father, rushing to welcome him home.

Those words, “while he was still a long way off” are some of my favourite words in scripture.

One of our post communion prayers used to use those words: While we were still a long way off, you came to meet us.

For a long time I’ve had much sympathy for the elder brother who felt left out of the party.

I wonder if he ever joined in?

Or whether he carried on doing all the things he had done - with added resentment.

I wonder if the elder brother ever woke up to the knowledge of all that was his for the taking- “ all that is mine is yours”

And of course, the woman of the house, if there was one, doesn’t get a mention.


How will this parable speak afresh to us today?

Will we recognise where we are well off and return - changed or not?

Will we see afresh the abundant gifts of God that have always surrounded us?

And will we share out of that abundance rather than scarcity?

Will we know our God as the prodigal one - who is extravagant with love and with grace?

Will we know today that we are enough?

That we can make a difference?


Today, as we read this parable, at the mid point of Lent, I’m drawn back to Ash Wednesday, recalling that as we gathered to remember that we are dust, Russia invaded Ukraine.

And we had an all too tangible reminder that we are dust.

Almost 4 weeks on, lives are still being lost, cities are being destroyed and we’re seeing the best and the worst of human behaviour.

The courage and compassion of those who rush to help.

And the seeming inhumanity of those in power who rush to put obstacles in the way of those fleeing for their lives - especially here in the UK.

While an evil regime continues to wreak carnage.


We’re at the mid point in Lent.

We need Easter and we need it to come quickly.

We need resurrection - the reminder that death does not have the last word, that love will triumph over evil.

In the meantime…

May we not stand by as evil gathers forces and takes up arms.

May we recognise the abundance that surrounds us - the amazing love and grace of God.

May we be filled not with resentment but with hope as we continue to serve God - to spread the love and grace of God wherever we are, knowing their overwhelming power to conquer evil.

May we be generous with the gifts that God has given, doing all that we can to bring peace into a world at war.

In the name of Christ, Prince of Peace.

Amen.







Sunday, 6 March 2022

Beautiful dust

 


Luke 4:1-13


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,

and serve only him.’ ”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,

for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,

to protect you,’

and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.


In the Name of God the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer, Amen


Before we consider today’s gospel, I want to pause for a moment with Ash Wednesday, our entry into Lent.

I want to pause to consider the words spoken as ash is placed on our foreheads:

Remember that you are dust - and to dust you shall return.

It is my hope that remembering that we are dust also takes us to remembering what God did - and does -  with dust.

God created humans out of dust - and invited us to be involved in the stewardship of all creation to work alongside God in caring for the earth and all its creatures.

Remember that you are dust.

God created stars and galaxies out of dust and invited us to take our place in that vast universe.

Remember that you are dust - and to dust you shall return.

And I want to add - and remember the amazing things that God can do with dust.


Jan Richardson puts it like this:

All those days

you felt like dust,

like dirt,

as if all you had to do

was turn your face

toward the wind

and be scattered

to the four corners

or swept away

by the smallest breath

as insubstantial—

did you not know

what the Holy One

can do with dust?

….

So let us be marked

not for sorrow.

And let us be marked

not for shame.

Let us be marked

not for false humility

or for thinking

we are less

than we are

but for claiming

what God can do

within the dust,

within the dirt,

within the stuff

of which the world

is made

and the stars that blaze

in our bones

and the galaxies that spiral

inside the smudge

we bear.


You can find the full text here


Here, this first Sunday of Lent, let us Remember that we are dust - and to dust we shall return.

Remembering the hope and trust that God has in us - and for us-  may help to give us a different lens through which to look at our world today.

A lens that sees power and beauty and strength to be harnessed out of the dust.


And so as we hear today’s gospel, of Jesus in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil, we bear witness to Jesus harnessing the power of dust to vanquish evil.

Jesus refuses to turn stones into bread to satisfy his own hunger, knowing that the bread God provides is the bread of life.

He refuses to assume power by bowing down to evil.

And he refuses to put God to the test by misusing the power that he knows he has.

Jesus withstands the temptations that the devil put in his way - and our gospel ends with these words: When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.


Evil does not give up.

We know that only too well.

And we, created out of dust, are entrusted to vanquish evil.

To see evil in all its subtle and blatant forms and to harness the power of dust by standing always against evil wherever and however it is encountered.

To seek truth that informs our prayers and our actions.

To refuse to be seduced by media coverage that paints a whole nation as evil but to see the shades of a people whose choices are limited.


This Lent, may we take on rather than give up.

Take on discerning truth so that our prayers and actions are informed by love.

Take on the power and the beauty and the strength that are in the dust by which we are created.

May we take on harnessing the power of dust to stand against evil.

May we take on looking for beauty, even and especially in the rubble of war.

May we take on strength that enables us to hope that we are enough and that God does miraculous things with dust.

We are created out of dust breathed into with love.

And love is stronger than war and stronger than death.

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. 

And remember the amazing things that God can do with dust.

May it be so. Amen

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Cutting through the noise

 


Luke 4:21-30

Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


In the name of the creator, the redeemer and the sustainer. Amen


This week I’ve been particularly drawn to the last sentence in our gospel: 

he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

How that has resonated with me this week - and perhaps you too - he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

How often have you wanted to just keep walking - through the crowd and the noise, through the debates and the discussion, through the anxiety and the confusion, through the posturing and the pontificating? he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


In a week when we’ve heard more crazy about our government and the institutions that underpin the fabric of our society.

In a week when more migrants have taken to little boats in dangerous waters.

In a week when it seems world leaders have learned nothing about war.

In a week when we’ve remembered the Holocaust, pledging never again, yet knowing that hate crimes are on the rise - and seeing our culture edging closer and closer to the kind of indifference and weariness that allows such intolerance to arise in our midst, I want to retreat


I want to retreat, not to escape the noise and confusion but to get my head straight.

I want to retreat, not to ignore all that is going on but to take it all in.

I want to retreat, not to shirk what God is asking of me - but to discern it anew.

I want to retreat, not to conserve my energy but to gather my courage to jump back in.


I don’t believe Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way to escape what they might do to him.

I believe he kept on walking because he had work to do:

In presenting his manifesto, that came from God…

In recognising that the Spirit of God was on him, that he was appointed to bring good news for the poor, release for the captive, sight for the blind - the whole kit and caboodle…

In recognising that and in seeing how his own kith and kin reacted, Jesus needed to take time to reset, to get his head straight, to gather his courage, so that he could get back to it.

Get back to confounding years of tradition.

Get back to questioning years of entitlement.

Get back to demonstrating the costly nature of living out God’s radical message of love and inclusion.


Jesus’ call wasn’t simply to shore up the religious institutions of his day.

Or to be silent about the latest political pronouncements that condemned many to harsh lives of poverty and injustice.

His call was to question those in authority - in church and in state - and to model a new way - a way that transcends all our notions of right and wrong, that oversteps every line we could possibly imagine.


Our communities are full of tired and restless people right now.

Surviving 2 years of a global pandemic has opened our eyes to possibility - to the good that communities can do and be when they work together.

And it has opened our eyes to the appalling lack of leadership or compassion or moral compass that exists elsewhere.

We, as Christ’s body can no longer be silently compliant in the many injustices of the world.

It’s not enough to slip back into our familiar routines and practices.

As we are assaulted by a cacophony of noise in the world, 

as we witness anger and protest and discontent in our communities, 

our call is to recalibrate what God demands of us today.

To walk on through the noise of the crowds, the haters and the doubters, and to find newness of purpose in the one who called us before we were born.

As we read in Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations…

today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to pull down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:5,10)


Do not underestimate the power of taking time out to recalibrate

Do not underestimate the difference you can make

Do not underestimate the power of love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(1Corinthians 13)


For the love of God

Amen

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Being the change

 


Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer Amen


What would it take, today, to say: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

What would it take to be able, having read from the scroll (or the gospel book today) to place it back where it lives during the week - and to set about fulfilling scripture?

How might we hear the good news for the poor?

How might our eyes be opened?

How might we be set free for things that hold us back.

How might we rise up from things that keep us down?


We might want to argue that what Jesus was asserting was that he was the fulfilment of Scripture - that what those in the synagogue were witnessing was the one on whom the Spirit of God rests.

And, of course it was. But what about now.

How is that Scripture going to be fulfilled today?

Good news for the poor

Release for the captives

Sight for the blind

Freedom for the oppressed.

How will we hear that scripture setting us free today?

And how will we fulfil that scripture for others? 


What does it look like today, to bring good news to the poor?

What does good news even look like in our communities today?

What does good news look like when you are constantly worried about where your next meal will come from?

Or whether you can afford to turn the heating on?

What does good news look like when you are worried about inflation - particularly when you’re not even that sure what inflation is - but you do know that, even though you’re working two jobs you can’t afford your weekly grocery bills and, if you’re lucky enough to be just about managing, there’s absolutely no cushion for any surprises, any unforeseen expenses.

What does good news look like to the many in this community who are living hand to mouth, not because they’ve been careless - and who are we to judge - but because constant and relentless austerity measures hit hardest those who are just about managing.

What does good news look like to those who are just getting on their feet, or to those who are barely keeping their heads above water, for whom there is no safety net.


And what about release for the captives.

Those trapped in isolation, or addiction, or fear, those stuck in food or fuel poverty, those struggling with mental health issues - how will they find release?

And how will the blind be enabled to see - both the beauty and pain, the good will and the sickness that affects our community?

How will our eyes be opened to all our blind spots - the things we overlook or fail to see?

How can we proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour?

That is some calling to fulfil.


We are confronted today with that same stark reality with which Jesus presented those who heard him read scripture in the synagogue.

Promises are empty - until they are fulfilled.

It’s no good knowing scripture by heart if we don’t live into it.

Believing in the promises for ourselves - and for the communities in which we live and work.

Promises that remain empty words unless we are prepared to be the means of seeing Scripture fulfilled.

We know that’s a huge task - much bigger than us.

So - how can we avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task before us?

How can we avoid being disabled by its enormity?


What if we took seriously the notion of God’s spirit resting on us.

What if we took seriously that Gods spirit enables us.

Enables us to be good news,

Enables us to see beyond our blindness.

Enables us to throw off the chains that keep us bound to our smallness and our lack of vision.

Enables us to break free from the limiting stories that we’ve heard so often that we believe them - stories of not having enough, of not being enough.

God spirit rests on us.

Who are we to limit the Spirit of God?

What if, in the power of that spirit, we asked God to reveal one thing - one thing that we can do , one thing that we might be - that will enable us to live into our calling as God’s people today.

A people called and equipped to fulfil scripture.

I don’t know what the one thing might be for you.

What I do know is that if we all find that one thing, then together, Scripture will be fulfilled.

Today.

In this place.


Let’s hear today’s gospel again - read this time from The message version - just to give us another take on it:

Luke 4:16-21

He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me;

he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and

recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,

to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."


May it be so that this prophecy came true today, in this place - and in all the days to come as we seek out that one thing that we can do as we live into being the body of Christ in this place.

Being good news for the poor

Release for captives

Sight for the blind

And freedom for the oppressed.

Being the fulfilment of Scripture in this community today.

Amen  

Thanks be to God.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Sacred pause

 


Luke 1:39-45

Mary Visits Elizabeth

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


In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer Amen


When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.


What a lovely moment in our journey through advent

Two women sharing a pause.

The very young Mary, seeking out her elder relative Elizabeth.

Sharing the joy and anxiety of motherhood.

Two women, unexpectedly pregnant - Mary, because she was not yet married - and Elizabeth, because she thought she was beyond the age of bearing a child

Two women, pregnant with potential, sharing a moment, each recognising in the other the blessing of God

Knowing that they carried within them the world’s salvation, promised forever, knowing that they had a role in the fulfilment of that promise.

Two women, taking a moment to pause at the wonder of it all.

So let us pause for a moment.

Let’s pause.

To breathe in grace…

And breathe out fear…

Breathing in grace…

And breathing out fear…


If we learn anything from Mary and Elizabeth, it is that their joy in the Lord was embodied.

It wasn’t just in their head.

Or even just in their heart.

Their whole body cried out in joy.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit just as she was filled with the child in her womb - and she cried out:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”


Mary’s song, that we read as our canticle this morning- is just as Spirit filled, just as full of passion- The Magnificat - a song of utter faith and trust in God to fulfil God’s promise - 

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.


Embodied faith.

Embodied grace.

Something that plays out in our everyday lives.



As we were reminded us last week - when crowds went out to hear John the Baptist in the wilderness, he didn’t ask them to stay there with him - he urged them to go back and live out faith where they were - by sharing what they had - if you have two coats, give one away, share your food, don’t cheat others…

The faith we profess has to be visible in our lives, has to be embodied, not just held in our minds or our hearts - but lived out.

Mary and Elizabeth embodied their complete trust in God.

As their sons grew, they would experience great sorrow, witness things that no mother should ever have to witness for their children, the kinds of things that countless mothers still endure today.

Yet each of them, knowing that sorrow awaited, rejoiced in the moment of being chosen by God to bear the herald of God and the Son of God.

We are told that Mary stayed with Elizabeth about 3 months.

And I can’t help wondering if that was the most peaceful time that both Mary and Elizabeth knew.

Because once their sons arrived, the world was changed forever.

Perhaps they knew that they had to make the most of the time before.

The time when they still had the power to protect and nurture their sons.

A blessed time for two women to care for one another, to rejoice, to soothe and comfort and to share strength with one another for the journey ahead.


And it seems like this might be a good time for us, in our race through Advent, to take some sacred pause.

To marvel at God’s blessing and God’s care for each of us.

To feel, not just in our hearts and minds, but with our whole being, the love and care of God for us - the grace that is ours, freely, extravagantly given in love by a God who chooses us.

It’s a good time to take a sacred pause and to notice - How are we embodying that grace?

Where do we feel it in our bodies?

Where does it ooze out into our everyday lives?

Let’s take a sacred pause.

Let us pause, from our preparations, from our anxiety, from our wondering what government announcements await us tomorrow.

Let’s pause.

To breathe in grace.

And breathe out fear.

Breathing in grace.

And breathing out fear.

As we pause here, with Elizabeth and Mary, may we gather strength, from one another and from God, to face whatever is next this Advent, knowing that the grace of God accompanies us as we go from here, filling us and equipping us for abundant life.

To the glory of God

Amen