December 24, 2017
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The First Sunday (of Advent), Deacon Bill told us about “kronos” being the time that we live in – measured time. And, of course, “kyros” is the time that is unmeasured – time outside of time – God’s time.
Father John then told us the Second Sunday of Advent, that we need to make sure that we find a way to get around the things that are blocking us from having a good prayer life with God, even if it means we have to take a side road.
And then, last week, the Third Sunday of Advent, he told us what was waiting for us if we have that relationship with God, which is a limitless joy, a bottomless font of joy.
So, our kronos time of Advent is coming to an end with this Sunday’s services. Tomorrow is kyros time, what we have been eagerly anticipating. Not presents under a tree. At least I hope that’s not what we’re looking forward to. But rather, the present above all presents, which has only been given one time. And that is Emanuel – God among us, incarnate, just like you and me. And that’s how much God loves us. So how much do we love God?
I went to a funeral – actually it was more a celebration of the life of a truly wonderful woman. Now, she loved God. And she showed her love by doing everything she possibly could do to help those in need. Whether it was hospitals, those who were sick, taking the elderly to appointments, lunches with them, even to allowing ex-prisoners to come into their home. “Whatever you do for these least ones, you do for Me.”
She listened when God spoke. Even when he called her, a lifelong Protestant, a devoted Protestant, to become Catholic. She knew that there was a possibility that she could be isolated from family, who would not necessarily understand her choice to leave a faith that she lived all her life to become Catholic. But she chose to do that, even though she might lose friends over it. She became Catholic and lived a very Catholic life. She was very proud of that – shared it with everyone – but especially with her friends that she made her at Prince of Peace, in her women’s groups and bible studies. Even a few years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer, she never turned inward. She allowed herself to continue to pour everything out. She was a truly wonderful woman. I wish you could have all known her.
And, today, we hear of another woman, a young woman who’s betrothed, she’s going to be married, but she’s also very devoted to her faith. And, so, she doesn’t just get a call on her heart. No, this is a very special young woman. God sends an angel to her – and angel named Gabriel, which means “strength of God”, which should tell you how very special this young woman was. And he gives her a greeting that’s – I don’t care where you look in Scripture – all the kings, all the very special people to God, you’ve never heard, nor will you ever hear this greeting. “Hail, full of grace!”
And he confuses Mary because she doesn’t know what that means. Now, you know that she was afraid. You know that she was unsure. You know she was trying to figure out what was going on here. And, so, Gabriel, tells her not to be afraid. And he says that she will conceive a son, and He will be the son of the Most High. I don’t know about you guys, but, whenever I think that if I were a young Jewish woman, and this guy comes up to me and says that I am going to conceive a son, and He will be the son of God, I’m going to tell him I have some water on the stove and I think its burning. That would just totally scare me to death. And yet, this young woman loved God, and loved all those other fellow humans so much that she was willing to listen to this. And she does ask, “How is this supposed to happen? I’m a virgin. I’ve never known a man.” And so, he says, “It will be done by God’s Holy Spirit.
Mary’s concern should have been that she wasn’t going to be facing isolation from family. She did not have to face losing friends. But rather, stoning to death by Jewish law. And yet, she doesn’t even pause. “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me as you say”.
And it’s because of that “yes”, it’s because of her love of God, it’s because of her love of all humanity, that we get to celebrate tomorrow evening. Kyros time – God’s time, when God becomes incarnate. We arrive where kronos and kyros intersect. And it’s a very, very beautiful time.
While we celebrate the birth of the Lord, I’m going to ask you to take a very simple lesson from two wonderful women – the Blessed Mother and Judy. And let’s not ask each other how much we love God. Let’s not tell each other how much we love God. Let us, instead, show how much we love God by showing how much we love our brothers and sisters.