Once again, it is Advent – the season of anticipation, the season of longing. It is the darkest time of the year, and this year the world seems especially dark. There are people determined to commit acts of terrible violence and innocent people who lives are being literally torn apart. Some of them are Christians, who, like us, are preparing to celebrate Christmas. Some are non-believers. Some are Muslim. All of us are brothers and sisters, one human family, for whose sake God was born into the world in the person of Jesus, child of Mary and Joseph.
This year we celebrate Advent with the Gospel of Luke. Legend says that Luke was a physician, but I think he must also have been a musician. Some of the most beautiful music has been set to Luke’s songs. The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) is the song John the Baptist’s father sings following his birth. John’s mission, the song says, will be to point to what God is going to do through Jesus: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” What an amazing promise!
The Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) is both lovely and revolutionary. It proclaims that God’s mercy will be shown to those who honor God from generation to generation. But it also announces “the great reversal” in which God will fill the hungry with good things and raise up the lowly, while sending the powerful, the proud and rich away. God’s promise made long ago to Abraham and Sarah will be fulfilled in Jesus – blessing for the whole human family and especially the poor and those most in need.
Finally, when Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the temple for his dedication, old Simeon sings, “My eyes have seen your salvation!” (Luke 2:29-32). All that God promised has come to pass, and the light will extend to all!
Sometimes at Christmas we feel the need to be cheerful almost all the time. But the true spirit of Christmas is found in these songs: it is in darkness that light shines. It is to those who walk in shadows that light comes. It is those who pause beside the weary road who hear angels sing. This Christmas, take time to savor Luke’s songs and may you be blessed with the deep joy and profound hope of Christmas.
Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor