Fourth Sunday of Advent

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:    

Lord Jesus Christ,
You  call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear you,
To receive your Spirit,
To be led by your Spirit.


Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Season of Advent:  Week Four

The lectionary reading for this fourth Sunday in Advent begins leading us into two dimensions:  the realm of God, and the home of Mary. In the heavenly realm the divine “clock” announces that the time has come for God to do the new thing, long promised through the prophets. Angels stand ready, awaiting God’s orders. Heaven is on the move. Gabriel, chief angelic messenger, is appointed to carry the heavenly announcement:  to Mary, a young woman, who lives in the town of Nazareth.

Now it’s one thing for a neighbor to drop by, but quite another for Gabriel the archangel to show up in your kitchen unannounced.

Now the cosmic new thing that God is about to bring forth—the salvation of all people, the mending of all creation—is happening as Gabriel speaks: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” Mary has longed for God’s intervention, has prayed for the Messiah to come to rescue God’s people, but for God to show up like this was not what she expected. Surprised, perplexed, fearful, she wonders what this greeting and this blessing carry. Why would she be blessed? What does all this mean?

Now Gabriel speaks words of comfort and offers the reason for this heavenly visit.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary heard the announcement, but found herself caught by the impossibility of becoming pregnant. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she finds herself asking this heavenly visitor.  Gabriel is ready with an answer. Heaven is coming to earth; the Holy Spirit will come upon this young woman, and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. “The child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God,” the angel explains –as if this  heavenly birth announcement made sense.

But there is more. Gabriel now says: “Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Mary now responds. Although taken by surprise as this archangel  Gabriel’s earth-shaking news invades her every-day normalcy,  disrupts her life, her plans for marriage, her future, Mary is prepared for this moment. As she attends the synagogue, listens to the Hebrew scriptures being read, hears the promises of the Coming One, and brings her longings to Jahweh in prayer, she is moved into waiting. Waiting for the Messiah. She longs for God to show up, for God to bring an end to Roman occupation, for God to bring healing to the fractures and diseases within the Jewish world. For God to rescue the oppressed, the poor, the hungry. For the misuse of power among the wealthy and the governing leaders to be exposed for what it is. She longs for true shalom.

And so she speaks the words which arise within her, coming from her deepest soul:   “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

When God is on the move, and we say, “Yes”, life is never the same again. The ways of the Kingdom of heaven invade our human, constricted structures, move beyond all that we expect, and threaten our sense of safe normalcy. This new thing that God is doing will move beyond the Law of Moses, and shake the many attachments of traditions to the bone. Mary will find that her engagement to the carpenter and her hopes for marriage will now be at risk. She recognizes her need of sanctuary and safety, and journeys into the hills of Judah, to the house of Elizabeth.

As Jesus is born in us, God’s Spirit will overshadow us, and we will give birth to God’s Kingdom in the stable of this world.

For reflection:

As you look back on your life, reflect on the  Gabriel moments.

What word did God speak to you?

Who are the persons who have created a safe space for you to share this word, the waiting, the birthing?

Where is saying “Yes Lord” taking you?


 Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,    
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize your presence.

Open the inn of my life
Prepare my soul for your birthing
In me – for the sake of the world.      

Season of Advent:  Week Four

  • 12/12    Monday:  Luke 1:26-33
  • 12/13    Tuesday:  Luke 1:34-38
  • 12/14   Wednesday:  Luke 1:46b – 55
  • 12/15   Thursday:  2 Samuel 7:1-11
  • 12/16    Friday:  Romans 16:25-27
  • 12/17    Saturday:  Luke 1:26-33
  • 12/18    Sunday:  Luke 1:34-38