This morning I heard an advertisement about “last-minute” Christmas shopping. Since when does the first week of December constitute last minute? My father shopping on Christmas Eve day and then coming home with bags full of things for me to wrap for my mom—that’s last-minute! Right now—in my mind—we still have plenty of time.
While the commercialism of this month can surely lead us far from the season’s meaning, questions of time (is there too much or too little?) are native to Advent. We are told to stay awake and keep watch for Christ’s coming, and yet we wait and wait and wait… The kin-dom of God is at hand, and still the world remains a far cry from the prophetic visions we read each week. We rush to accomplish our holiday householding, even as the carols playing in the background call us to stillness and wonder. So is time running out, or do we have all the time in the world? Which things cannot wait, and when do we need longing to be our teacher?
Quite likely, our natural inclinations stand in need of reversal. Peace on earth is more urgent than baking those cookies. Inviting our hearts to relive God’s stories and gifts more important than scripting our Christmas cards and wrapping presents (last-minute or otherwise). The invitation to us this week, relayed so beautifully in Mary’s words, is that there is great joy to be found in reversals of priorities and fortunes (see full text in Luke 1:46b-55).
With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
[God] has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
And so if, in this first week of December, we are feeling pressed for time, let’s set aside the to-do lists and make some room for joy. We can shout Mary’s prayer in response to those ads insisting that it’s getting late. We can ponder in our hearts the ways God has already provided and entrust the current season to God’s loving care.
If, on the other hand, we’re sensing no rush at all, we can take a moment to pray or give or serve in a way that wakes the soul and tunes the heart to the ones God favors. We can bake those cookies, write a card, and reach out to those the world turns away empty. For now is the time to remember God’s mercy, to join in the song that turns the world on its head.
This Sunday, I hope you’ll join in the literal song of joy offered up by several of UCU’s musicians during the morning worship service. We’ll light candles and sing carols that awaken us to God’s presence that is among us now and yet still coming.
With prayers for abundant joy,