Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting the Good News Through

Our scriptures for this fourth Sunday of Advent are 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 and Luke 1:26-38. But I want to begin our reflection for this Sunday when we consider, in our season of waiting, how we are waiting for love by looking back at what we talked about this past Sunday: how we are waiting for the joy of good news. There was an incredibly powerful quote I meant to include in our conversation around this in the sermon this past Sunday, so since I neglected to do that I will post it here:

"We all long to hear a good word: a word that brings good news, a word that can sustain us, a word that can give us the vision and courage to make it through another day, a word that tells us God is with us. Precisely what that 'good word' is, what it says, will vary from context to context. A person who is drowning doesn't want to hear about food any more than a person who is starving wants to be thrown a life preserver. We each long to hear a word that speaks to where we are, in our own particular place and time." (Professor Holly Hearon,

I think it's true--we are each waiting for good news--but good news is not uniform for everyone. It will not be received in the same way by everyone. We hear every piece of news colored by our histories, our needs, the ways we have been burned or blessed in the past, the way we imagine the future is "supposed" to be.

Think about the good news that unfolded in Luke 1. When Mary's cousin Elizabeth got word she was pregnant--a miracle in her old age after years of barrenness!--this was good news indeed--almost too good to be true for one who had been waiting for this news for decades. But for Mary? At the age of maybe 13 or 14, this was the last news Mary was looking for--it was, in many ways, like being thrown a life preserver when water was nowhere in sight. No wonder, at the angel's appearance and words to her, she found herself not immediately filled with joy deeply troubled, disturbed, confused, rattled. Why would God seek to bring good news to the world in this way--a way that, it seemed, would almost certainly mean bad news for young, unwed Mary? Why would God choose this route to reach us?

I've been captured this Christmas season by a beautiful song co-written and recorded by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Andy Gullahorn. "I Will Find a Way" dares to imagine God trying to figure out how to bring God's love to a world that God was not sure would be able to receive God's love. What creative ways would God have to find to get this good news, this good Word that is Jesus, across in the context of our broken, suspicious world? The song speaks of a broken, abused young woman—a woman maybe Mary’s age—and speaks from God’s perspective in considering how to get the good news of love across to her. I strongly encourage you to listen to the song here and consider how God had to be creative--unconventional--unexpected--if good news that would completely blow anything else we have ever experienced out of the water was to be received by a world that, in Gullahorn's words, "gave up on love waiting for a change."

We wait…but how ready are we actually to receive such overwhelmingly good news? Are our hearts ready to make room for Christ’s presence? If not, what is keeping that love out? What must God break through to come to us once again?

And once we receive God’s love…to what lengths are we willing to go to see that love carried into the world, to ensure God’s good word can be heard by those who long for it most desperately? What can we learn from God’s choice to become incarnate in us about how we, then, can make Christ’s love intimately present to the world?

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