Sunday, December 23, 2012

Leaping for Joy: A Homily for Advent IV, Year C, 2012

Homily for Advent IV, Year C, 2012
Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Luke 1:39-45

“The child in my womb leaped for joy!”
-Luke 1:44

Upon learning that she was pregnant, the Virgin Mary went to the hill country and met her aged cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with a miracle-child.  In her own vulnerability Mary sought the counsel and comfort of a wise woman.  Together they would ponder and reflect on the work God was doing through them; together they would love and support each other; together they would dream the dreams that mothers have for their children. 

When Mary approached Elizabeth, she was greeted with excitement.  In a holy moment, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed how blessed she was to be greeted by the mother of her Lord, and how blessed Mary was to be carrying in her womb the one who would be called “Lord.”  It was a moment filled with excitement; a moment filled with joy; a moment filled with the presence of God through the Holy Spirit.  The moment was one of such excitement, and a recognition of the salvation that God was working through the agency of the gentle virgin, meek and mild, that even Elizabeth’s child leapt for joy in her womb, at the approach of Mary.

As we approach the natal feast of our Lord, our anticipation grows, our joy builds, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are given songs of praise to sing.  Our redemption draweth nigh.  Each year, as we draw ever closer to hearing again the story of our Saviour’s birth, we experience afresh that anticipation that there is good news for us, and for the whole world.  If our hearts have become saddened, if our spirits have grown tired, if our senses have grown numb, or our minds weakened by the cares of the world, then once again the Holy Spirit goes to work on us.  Once again, hope is kindled, anticipation builds, and good news greets us.  As with the elderly Elizabeth, who was made youthful again by God’s grace, so are we restored to youthful exuberance and child-like cheer.  Deep within us, something is stirred, and our hearts leap within us, as the child leapt in Elizabeth’s womb.  Our Lord comes to greet us.

Why has this happened, and who are we that God should visit us?  Who are we that the Holy Family should seek our comfort?  Who are we that Jesus should come into our homes and seek shelter?  And yet, in spite of our sadness, our tiredness, our numbness, or our weakness, in Christ Jesus God comes to us, to dwell with us, to be with us, and to restore us.

God so loved the world that he looked upon the lowly, not only to be the ones he saved but to be partners in the salvation of the world.  He looked upon Mary and Elizabeth with deep love. He looked upon John the Baptist, and Joseph, and Simeon, and Anna, and Zechariah as his partners and his friends.  He looked upon the disciples of old as his partners and friends, and he looks upon you and me, as his partners and his friends.  In Christ Jesus, God reaches out his saving hand to us that we might be saved – saved from our sins, saved from our brokenness, saved from our isolation.  In Christ Jesus God reaches out his saving hand to the world and invites us to share that Good News to those who have not heard it, that as our spirits have been restored and our souls have leapt for joy, so too might the spirits and souls of the faint-hearted, the lonely, and the forgotten hear that same news and find themselves restored and lifted up.  Blessed are the feet of those who bring good news.




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