Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; 11:1-6
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 1:39-43, 46-55
John 1:1-14,16

        Far be it from me to take anything away from Esther, whose story of being in the right place at the right time has been the source of our theme for this Advent season: For such a time as this.

        Esther’s love and courage saved her people from genocide.

        And far be it from me to deny Mary, the mother of Jesus, one iota of the glory and praise she is due for entertaining an angel and saying yes to a preposterous pronouncement from God.

        Mary, like Esther before her, had a choice; she could have said no. She could have said, “Not now; this is not a good time.”

        But, like Esther, Mary risked her reputation and possibly her life. Like Esther, Mary chose faithfulness over fear, justice over power, and possibility over safety. Mary pondered whether she might truly be favored by God, and, like Esther, Mary considered what her “yes” might mean.

        And so her imagination and consent made way for God to be made flesh and live among us, for light to come into our darkness, for all creation to know grace upon grace, for all God’s children to love and be loved.

        Far be it from me to take anything away from Esther or Mary or Jesus of Nazareth. Through them God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

        Let us never fail to marvel at God’s wondrous love and mysterious ways. I mean, “who would think,” as the song says, “that was was needed to transform and save the earth might not be a plan or army proud in purpose, proved in worth? Who would think, despite derision, that a poor child should lead the way? [But] God surprises earth with heaven, coming here on Christmas Day.”

        And still God is not finished with us. The self-emptying, God-with-us love that we celebrate on Christmas continues to liberate  and transform humanity and the world by the in-dwelling Spirit of the divine.

        Joy to the world, indeed!

        Glory to God in the highest that the light of justice and peace, love and freedom, hope and healing and wholeness for all the world was born among the lowest, lived as an outcast, and was executed like a common criminal.

        Joy to the world because God is forever and always and everywhere being born—for just such a time as this. Because the Holy is forever and always and everywhere breaking into our sense of time, disturbing our notion of what is possible, and disrupting our understanding of how things work. Because Love is forever and always and everywhere turning things upside-down and inside-out. Because justice and peace are forever and always and everywhere on the way.

        Love is on the way—for such a time as this.

        Light is on the way—for such a time as this.

        A new world—the reign of God—is on the way, for such a time as this.

        History is made by people who said yes to life, yes to possibility, yes to the unknown and untried, yes to hope and life. They become explorers and inventors, risk takers and change agents, liberators and revolutionaries, leaders and visionaries, heroes and martyrs, trailblazers and  justice-makers, dreamers who refuse to believe it can’t be done, and groundbreakers who defy those who say someone like them can’t do or be whatever they want.

        And God’s way is made by individuals and communities who say yes to love, yes to the Holy, yes to what seems impossible, yes to what they are most afraid of, yes to the liberation and empowerment of all people, yes to the reign of God, yes to a future they can’t see, yes to a longing they cannot name.

        For just such a time as this—a time of death and loss, deception and division, greed and violence and climate catastrophe—Love comes to us.
For such a time as this—a time of isolation and despair, fear and fatigue, uncertainty and anxiety—Peace comes to us.

        For this time and every time—times when we’re just making it up as we go, times when it’s all we can do to hang on and keep on going—Hope comes to us.

        For this time and every time—times when a light shines into our darkness, times when we know we are loved, times when we choose to trust that nothing is impossible with God—Joy comes to us. 

        For this time and for all time—times when we can’t imagine a different world, a healed heart, or a better future—God’s ever-newness comes to us.

        Glory to God in the highest—and in the lowest. And on earth, peace and goodwill to all.

        Let it be with us according to God’s dream of love.