December 19, 2021: “The Work of Christmas”

Christmas candles in wreath

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The “Work of Christmas”

As we prepare for the arrival, we again are reminded about how we are to wait with the Gospel passage today. Even in fearful or joyful moments, we are more than solitary creatures. We are created for community. Although Mary did not fully know who this child named Jesus would be, she felt called by the Spirit to wait in eager and fearful anticipation with her cousin Elizabeth. Waiting is easier when we do so in community, as we are reminded at the end of this particular Advent journey.

While Advent is the “not yet” and the waiting time, it is also about arrival. God has already been here. In Mary’s song of praise, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55), she declares what God has already done. God has done great things for her, and God has shown Godself in this world.

When? When all have enough and when we look out for each other. When the oppressed have been lifted up and acknowledged as fully God’s children. When those who have too much have been brought down. As John the Baptist reminded us last week, the good news is when all have enough. He proclaimed that we are invited to be participants in this vision and God’s covenant to all flesh.

Our waiting will soon be over in this Advent season. The Christ-child will be born, God made flesh to live among us. The waiting is over, but now, as the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman wrote, the “work of Christmas” has begun—to create again a space where God’s love may be made real in providing enough for all flesh in this world.

Janel Rice, pastor, Calvary Moravian Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania