The fourth candle is lit, the air is chilled, the calendar shows the rush toward Christmas. Today at Immanuel, we started the movement from advent to birth eve. Bishop Baouman delivered the message and he never disappoints. He spoke of visitations and the witnesses to these. The wisest he said were those who kicked in the bellies of women.
We then sang “Unexpected and Mysterious,”
“Unexpected and mysterious is the gentle word of grace.
Ever-loving and sustaining is the peace of God’s embrace.
If we falter in our courage and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us as a mother tends her own.
Of a momentary meeting of eternity and time,
Mary learned that she would carry both the mortal and divine.
Then she learned of God’s compassion, of Elizabeth’s great joy
and she ran to greet the woman who would recognize her boy.
We are called to ponder mystery and awaiting the coming Christ,
to embody God’s compassion for each fragile human life.
God is with us in our longing, to bring healing to the earth
while we watch with joy and wonder for the promised Savior’s birth.” (Jeanette Lindholm)
When Bishop Bouman spoke of the kicking witnesses, I thought of N. It was less than two months ago I was given the honor of announcing her pregnancy to the congregation. I thought too of R’s sister and her friend. The world has been inundated with birth. The great cloud of witnesses certainly contains the faithful departed, but it also has the littlest Christians in its company.
Bishop Bouman talked of a faith that is sometimes little more than hope. In this I felt a security. I have often found where I stand to only be hope and at its best moments faith, but in this God does not put me down, no matter how often I do this with Him. When I sang “if we doubt….God is faithful” the realization of this was intense. The Great Defender does His children keep and protect.
What is right, beautiful, and just? What is meant? Where is the hand of Providence? To where do we go?
This morning I read from the Large Catechism and Kierkegaard. And there seemed to be a little conflict. Kierkegaard gave up the beauty extolled in the catechism. His was a larger goal than a wife and children. I was perplexed. I have owned the struggle. I have oft quoted Ste. Expurey when I talk of looking radically together at the same vision. Then again I am too fond of saying that you do not have to save the world for that has been done, what you have to do is be good to and for a few people.
There is one obvious place to be good to and for a few. And yet, as I spoke about hunger, I know the world needs those who are alone and yet cry in the wilderness and in so doing are in the service to the One and in this in service to all creation.
The catechism calls the former the more noble place and seems to ignore the later. I have said this is the Reformation’s great weakness. And I do not go the route of the ancient church of saying one having more merit than the other, but I do realize the need for both.
Wake up, open up, decide!